Friday, May 30, 2014

The unfathomable awesomeness of being

Today I came across this quote by Amy Poehler: "Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life."


In the past, I haven't been much of a joiner. Some groups have an us-versus-them mentality that I cannot abide. Because awesomeness is all-embracing and all-inclusive and I just want everyone to be awesome together. But I feel like I've finally found a place where that happens. I feel like part of a team, the kind of team I've always wanted to belong to, where everyone is encouraging and inspiring and unbelievably kick-ass. I have PEN. I have TrailsRoc and my running family. I have my work family. I have my family and my friends-who-are-family. I have all the people (and Mozzie). I have everything.

I've always been pretty lucky, but lately my luck has been reaching previously unfathomable levels of ridiculousness. And I just want to take a moment to appreciate the crap out of it.

It's impossible to know what the future will bring. But I'm looking forward to every minute of it.

Lyric of the moment: "Now I know all the wrong turns, the stumbles and falls brought me here. And where was I before the day that I first saw your lovely face? Now I see it everyday. And I know that I am the luckiest..."

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

2014 New Things #8: Smart phone

About a month ago I finally joined the 21st century and upgraded to a smart phone. I have nothing against technology, but a smartphone never seemed like a necessity to me. I sit in front of a computer all day at work, so when I'm not at work I like to be unplugged. Not unavailable, just not in front of a screen. But as with anything else in life, I figured I could do technology my way. So I got the Samsung Galaxy III mini, which I picked because it was the smallest and bluest option. (It's a good rule of thumb for choosing let's say a phone or car or house, possibly even a bikini if you are hella confident. Not so much for choosing a date though ladies.)

I think the smartphone and I are going to be friends. Mostly I use it to check Facebook, which means looking at cute pictures of my friends and their kids, finding out where all the runs are and laughing at all the jokes, funny stories and antics of my favorite humans. It's also handy as an alarm clock and calendar. And I've started using it to listen to Pandora while I take Mozzie for walks, since his walks are more like sniffing extravaganzas with some intermittent moseying and the music relaxes me and keeps me from being all Oh my god we are not even moving. Mozzie, seriously? It's been 5 minutes. How  much longer do you need to smell the place where you just peed?

I could use it for directions, but I usually don't because I dislike being bossed around by disembodied voices. And because sometimes you have to get lost in order to get to the very best places.

Bonus points for now being able to say I have a mini Galaxy in my purse.

Lyric of the moment: "I want more. Impossible to ignore, impossible to ignore. And they'll come true. Impossible not to do, impossible not to do. And now I tell you openly, you have my heart so don't hurt me. You're what I couldn't find. A totally amazing mind, so understanding and so kind..."

Saturday, May 24, 2014

2104 Race #6: Sehgahunda Trail Relay

At least my hair looked cute. Thanks Mom!
(Thanks to the Celentanos for this pic)
My journey to this race started in the middle of a soul-crushingly long, cold winter. I went to a group run one Saturday morning and somehow as we trudged through calf-deep snow Pete, Alison, Bob and Todd, who were all training for the full marathon, convinced me to sign up. I think at one point I said "We're just going to keep running until I say yes, aren't we?" I didn't want to run the whole thing by myself and luckily Danielle agreed to be my relay partner, so team Sehgahunnies was born. Letchworth was calling and what else could I do but answer? Thus began a series of events that
would end up changing my life in amazing ways I never could have expected.

I've been sick all week so going into race day, I knew it wasn't going to be pretty. And it definitely wasn't. I was exhausted and full of mucus and cramped up. But I've learned it matters not what happens, it matters only what I do with it.  "Do not try and bend the spoon. That's impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth: there is no spoon. Then you'll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself." So I didn't get upset. I just kept running/walking/mud-wrestling. And actually I had a great time. I ran the first leg, about 6 miles, with Jenn, though I felt bad that she had to listen to me coughing up a lung the whole time. Other than not being able to breathe, I felt decent during that part. The mud was so ridiculous and everyone was so encouraging, cheering each other on as they passed or were passed. The second leg, a little over 9 miles, got a little rough. I ran out of water at one point and the cramps started to get to me. (But I totally peed in the woods like a champ.) The cumulative effects of the stupid cold and the extra effort of sloshing through the mud were wearing on me. But I wasn't upset, other than the fact that I felt like I was letting Danielle down by being the slower half of the team. It was a beautiful day, I had legs to run on, I got to see some amazing people I am lucky enough to know accomplish impressively awesome things, and I had a lot of hugs and a whole box of cookies to look forward to. What else could a robot want?
This is one of the races I will look back on during future struggles and think, this is nothing, I've run through worse. I don't have speed or innate talent. What I do have is an insane love of running and the ability to endure whatever comes my way, make the best of it, and keep on keeping on the road to Awesometown.

This is why I run
Today was a great day, but this race will always have a special place in my heart because the journey to get here brought me so much more than miles through the woods. It brought me new friends and back to old friends, it brought me new love, and it brought me to the place that feels like home.

And hopefully it made all the germs think "This host is the worst. She smells like sunscreen and bug spray and sweat and stinky mud and there is way too much jostling up in here. Not to mention she's drunk on candy.* Let's move out."

Lyric of the moment: "And I wonder, when I sing run along with you, if everything could ever feel this real forever, if anything could ever be this good again. The only thing I'll ever ask of you, you gotta promise not to stop when I say when..."

*Thank you to Sheila, Eric and Picasso for the goody bag of candy!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

On acceptance

Yesterday, I was annoyed at myself. For being sick and producing more phlegm than is humanly possible and passing out at 7:30pm. For so easily dismissing a hundred compliments and yet being upset by one (insane, ridiculous, untrue) criticism. But then I got tired of being annoyed and thought accept the things I cannot change. So I accept that I'm sick this week. I hope not, but I may still be sick for Sehgahunda on Saturday. I accept that it's going to be muddy. In all likelihood I will be slow (infinity of apologies to my relay partner, Danielle). I accept that some situations will always make me out to be the bad guy, like whatever I do is wrong or not good enough, like I am this terrible, awful person. I try not to care what people think, but I do care. I don't want to be the bad guy. But if finally moving on from the situations that were always breaking my heart makes me the bad guy, then so be it.

I think maybe we gravitate to the situations that confirm our beliefs about ourselves, thereby making them self-fulfilling prophecies. Maybe that's why I listened to the one voice that told me I'm a bad person, why I worried that maybe this is the price of loving me. I'm so totally over all that nonsense. I'm enough. You're enough. We're all enough. Let's go run through this mud and have a blast and laugh and cheer each other on and be happy and eat HoneyStinger waffles and drink flat coke (apparently it's like rocket fuel for long trail runs. But I still prefer the Mountain Dew).

But seriously, immune system, let's evict this stupid cold already. We have no time to be sick. There are so many adventures ahead of us!

Lyric of the moment: "If there was a better way to go then it would find me. I can't help it, the road just rolls out behind me. Be kind to me, or treat me mean. I'll make the most of it, I'm an extraordinary machine..." (well, maybe someday I will be)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The robot's guide to loving and living

I used to be very impatient with life. I was all Is it ever going to happen? Are we there yet? How about now? Now?

But I've come to enjoy the surprises, the unexpected plot turns. I don't know where I'll be a year from now, 5 years, 20 years. But I know it will be awesome. Because awesomeness, like happiness, is ever infinite and always available, regardless of time or space or circumstance.

I always hope that people will stick around, but sometimes they have their own shit going on, sometimes they get called off on other adventures. And that's ok.

I don't know what's going to happen or what other people are going to do. But this is what I'm going to do. This is the Robot's Guide to Loving and Living:

*Love everyone. Not just the ones who believe the same things as you or the ones who are nice to you. Everyone. Every single living thing deserves love.

*Love is freedom. It is not restriction or possession. It is not insecure, it does not worry. It accepts you for who you have been, who you are and who you will be. It just is. Always, forever. So keep your insecurities in check. And don't let yourself be manipulated by the insecurities of others.

*You don't have to choose sides. You can love everything. That's why chocolate-vanilla-swirl soft serve exists. So beware of situations that force you to choose sides. They are probably not the situations for you.

*Find your own happiness. Don't expect anyone else to make you happy. Do the work and fight your own demons and take care of yourself and show up for others.

*Celebrate all the good times and help each other through the bad times.

*Hugs and cookies for all!

Lyric of the moment: "Babe, I have to take the call. Fate, don't fail me now. I make all that I believe. I set myself free. So take all the time you need. And let yourself be..."

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Some beauty and some hills

Every time I see the sunrise, I think I should totally be doing more of this. The sun rises every day and most of the time I just take it for granted. But this morning I woke up early, restless and in need of perspective. So I ran up to Cobb's Hill to watch the sunrise, because it reminds me what I am capable of, how far I have come. And because sometimes I just need some beauty and some hills.

The first time I ever ran the gravel hill at Cobb's Hill was during a high school cross country race. I couldn't make it up without walking. I was so insubstantial then. I hadn't really struggled yet. I didn't have the wisdom and the strength that comes from rough patches and struggles and heartbreak and punching all the personal demons in the face.

Now I can run up that hill as many times as I want. And I love it. Whatever speed I had in my youth is long gone, but what I do have is endurance, heart, and the ability to tolerate discomfort. I was always fueled by desire. Whatever I wanted, I worked my ass off until I got it. (But then I crashed and burned a few times and realized that I also needed, you know, actual fuel.)

Sometimes people who know your past struggles look at you like you're fragile, like you might break at any time. I think it's funny. When people tell me about their pasts and the things they went through, I see only the opposite: strength and perseverance and hard-won awesomeness. Because I've learned that it's the hard things, the uncomfortable things, that really shape us. So if you're struggling, just keep going. There are amazing things awaiting you atop that hill. And when you get through that shit, you will never look back, except to see how far you've come.

Lyric of the moment: "You ask me if there'll come a time when I grow tired of you. Never my love, never my love. You wonder if this heart of mine will lose its desire for you. Never my love,  never my love..." (Because the Pete Yorn cover of this song was playing on the radio as I was driving to work this morning and the WBER radio guy said "That was a sad one by Pete Yorn." But how is that sad? I think it's quite lovely.)

Monday, May 12, 2014

To the extent that it's absurd

It's happening again. The sun comes out, the weather gets warm and I am like a wild animal who has just escaped from captivity. I want to see everyone and go everywhere and run all the races and eat all the snacks.* Everything. All at once. To the extent that it's absurd.

It gets a little overwhelming at times. Because I can't be everywhere and I can't do everything (though I will probably never stop trying). I love my job and I feel incredibly fortunate to have it, but sometimes being cooped up in an office all day wears on me. From my office window I can see people running and biking outside and I want to be out in the sunshine too. I want to have all the adventures, but Mozzie can't always go with me and I feel bad leaving him behind. I know he sleeps like 20 hours a day, but I still feel guilty for not being home more often.

I am not complaining. These are not problems. Life is good. So good that I feel like I can never be good enough in return. I just need to relax and stop thinking so much. One day, one adventure at a time. Doing the best I can. There will be things I cannot do or times I have to ask for help, and I have to be ok with that. Even though it makes me physically uncomfortable to accept favors.

Wherever I am and whatever adventures life has in store for me, I'll be happy. But I think I'd rather err on the side of overwhelm than underwhelm. I don't mind if things get a little absurd.

*Dear whoever came up with the idea of putting peanut butter inside pretzels and toasted marshmallows and chocolate in between graham crackers, mere words cannot express how much of a genius you are.

Lyric of the moment: "If one thing I know, I'll fall but I'll grow. I'm walking down this road of mine, this road that I call home. So am I wrong for thinking that we could be something for real? Now am I wrong for trying to reach the things that I can't see? But that's just how I feel, that's just how I feel. Trying to reach the things that I can't see..."

Thursday, May 8, 2014

On time. Or how soon is now?

There are two ways of getting in the pool: slowly, cautiously, toe by toe, inch by inch, or doing a cannonball. This is true of most things in life. You can take your sweet time, slowly acclimating yourself, savoring each step. Or you can jump into things with your whole heart, everything, all at once. There is beauty in both options. And either way, you're going to end up in the water.

I can take my time, letting things unfold as they will. But when I get that feeling in my heart like this is it, I'm all in, immediately, irrevocably, forever. The day I saw my current house, I made an offer on it. I fell in love with Mozzie the instant I saw his puppy face. I can make small talk and I love joking around but when I meet you what I really want to know is everything - all your stories, loves, fears, opinions, favorite songs, favorite flavors of ice cream (because really, who can have just one favorite flavor of ice cream?). If I know you, I want to really know you. I want to have all the conversations and go on all the adventures. Because why else are we here?

Sometimes I think maybe I should be a toe by toer. But I'm really more of a canonballer at heart. Life is short. I don't know how many beautiful days I have left. And I want to spend as much time as I can in the pool.

Lyric of the moment: "So let go, so let go. Jump in. Oh well, what you waiting for? It's alright 'cause there's beauty in the breakdown. So let go, let go. Just get in. Oh, it's so amazing here..."

Monday, May 5, 2014

2014 Race #5: Medved Madness 15 mile trail race

Shivering at the starting line at Mendon Ponds Park, I wondered why I had signed up for a race with the word madness in the title. Then I got to run 15 miles of double track and single track and fields and hills and swampy, stinky mud with some of my most favorite people. And I realized we're all mad here. Madly awesome.

Going in, I told myself it's not what happens at the race that matters, it's what I think about what happens. I can't control a lot of what happens but I can choose how I react to it. (This is part of my chill-the-fuck-out race/life mentality. It's still a work in progress.) I wanted to use this race as a training run, so I was trying not to have any expectations and just run by feel. Except I had a very strong desire not to fall and especially not to fall in horse shit. (Why is there so much poop at Mendon? There is a joke to be made here about not being a horse's ass and cleaning up after your horse's ass.)

And the madness begins! Thanks to Sheila for this pic!
Some people were trying to go around the muddy sections, but this is a trail race: shit is going to get muddy and wet. It's inevitable. Might as well go right through the middle of it. It'll be faster and better for the trails and more fun.

We ran three different 5 mile loops, each marked with different colored flags: orange, pink and, saving the best for last, blue. The course was so well-marked that even I couldn't get lost. (And I never know where I am.) I made some comment about how I wished that there were little flags for life to point me in the right direction. But the more I think about it, life is exactly like that. The flags of life are all the good things - the happy moments and calls to challenge/adventure and the people who are always there with arms wide open to run into - and if I follow those things, I will always be in the right place. I may not know where I'm headed and there may be some unexpected turns, but when good things knock on my door, I'm not going to tell them to come back later. I'm going to invite them in and break out the celebratory cookies.

The first loop I was trying to hold myself back and save something for the last 10 miles. The second loop I was thinking the middle is the hardest part, just get through this and you'll be fine. I think that was around the time I started singing Metric lyrics in my head: "I got nothing but time, so the future is mine." The third loop I was still feeling pretty good. Some trail debris had gotten in my shoe and I was tolerating it for a while, but then it became a real pain in the foot. I had to stop and take off my shoe, shake out the debris and put my shoe back on (thank you to Pete for stopping to help me so I didn't fall over). Then my hands were covered in mud, but I felt so much better that I just took off (The symbolism was not lost on me. It's funny how often running mirrors my life). Even the huge hill in the last half mile didn't really faze me. I was like ok this is getting a little ridiculous, but then I was up it and over it and on to the finish.

I don't even know what my time was for this race. There was no finish line clock and I wasn't wearing a watch. But I ran 15 miles and felt great and got hugs and no bake chocolate peanut butter cookies afterwards, so I'm considering it a success. I had my doubts going in, but this race turned out to be the perfect addition to a weekend of Kentucky Derby Day festivities and good times with good friends. And any weekend where I get to wear a new dress and a big hat on one day and get muddy and sweaty the next is a good weekend.

May the madness continue!

Lyric of the moment: "And when the hardest part is over, we'll be here. And our dreams will break the boundaries of our fear..."