Monday, December 30, 2013

My New Year's resolution? Stop trying to fix yourself.

"And when you smile
 The whole world stops and stares for a while
'Cause girl you're amazing

 Just the way you are"
Bruno Mars

For years, I have written New Years Resolutions that I believed would make me healthier, stronger, faster, more organized, patient, loving and happy.  One year it was diet, the next year I would BQ.  In 2011 I swore I would be more organized.  2012 was a year to give fully to others and 2013 was a year for growth and change.
 Its natural that the turning of the calendar allows us to catch a glimpse of hope.  We envision a time to forgive and forget. We close doors and open others.  This is all good.

But this year, I'm taking a different approach.  I read a quote recently by Steve Maraboli that states "Stop trying to fix yourself.  You're not broken.  You are perfectly imperfect and powerful beyond measure."
In my soul- in my essential self, I know I am immaculate.  I recognize that I am a droplet in the universal ocean and that my life has an amazing and distinct purpose.

Do I always understand it?  No.
Do I question it?  Of course.
But this year I choose to BELIEVE that my life is perfectly imperfect just they way it is.  This year I choose to let go and trust that while I may be a beautiful mess, I am not damaged goods.
This year I choose to be powerful beyond all measure, and in return I am free.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Lighting the world with Love

"So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
1st Corinthians 13:3

When I was little, Christmas was momentous .
Our house was decorated in memorabilia from head to toe.   A godlike Santa gifted good little boys and girls  (and of course that would be us!) and our allegiance was always rewarded.
My family made sure the food was bountiful, the presentation was exquisite and the celebration jovial.  My mom loved Christmas, and she always made  sure the day was special.  I always thought Christmas was the most magical day of the year.  It was a time for tradition.  A time of significance.  A time of unadulterated  joy.  

I'll never forget the the first year that Christmas sucked.   My boyfriend had conveniently just broken up with me, my roommates went home for the holidays...and I was alone.  No Santa, no presents, and a baked potato for dinner.  Christmas, I believed, was a hoax.
Over the years I've learned that a "Holly, Jolly Christmas" is a myth to many. Moms are still lost to bone cancer at Christmas time.  Babies are still hooked up to monitors in the ICU during the holidays. Those living on the streets have no loved ones to dash through the snow to, and some children still ask why Santa never visits their house.  The "Christmas spirit" is a delusion to them.

But what if we could make people believe in Santa (aka mankind) again? 
The true Christmas Spirit is about giving of yourself to bring the most happiness to others.
I feel so blessed to have parents who taught me that I have a part in creating hope.
I create the celebration. I am Santa Claus.

  In The Book of Awakening Mark Nepo states that "like a candle, our wick of spirit is encased in our being, and when our spirit is touched, we light up until all we know melts and changes shape for the burn of our experience.  In such moments, we become one with what we see and experience an illumination of oneness called love."  Its up to us to create the experience.  It's up to us to love.
Light the world with the oneness of your love this holiday season and into the blessed new year.

Merry Christmas friends :) 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

For this moment- it's all good.

"Every moment and every event of every man's life on earth plants something in his soul."
Thomas Merton

Being in the moment......

Looks like the scarlet sun ascending majestically over the Grand Canyon.
Tastes like lingering kisses planted on yielding lips.
Sounds like the giggles of a 6 year old over a trite joke.
Feels like warm sunshine on your face and grainy sand between your toes. 
Smells like gingerbread fresh out of the oven; and strong coffee.
Leaves you breathless, intoxicated and alive.

Living in the moment is being wrapped in a warm blanket of faith; and realizing that here today, I am just so good. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The story behind the pictures

"If you love somebody- set them free."

5 weeks ago I sat in the church parking lot blubbering....pounding the steering wheel and screaming "I can't do this anymore!  Universe- something has to change!" 
I'd faced another week of struggle.  My bruised heart had taken another hit.  The shackles were on and it seemed there was no escape.

I sobbed until I was snotty nosed and red eyed all the way home, and then did the only thing that felt right at the time.  I got on my bike and rode.  Rode until my lungs burned and my legs ached. Rode until my brain decided to turn itself off.  Rode until that heart muscle began repairing itself.

And upon my return, bone-weary and limp.....I  let go of any expectations I had of others, and instead chose for the first time to love and trust me.  I realized that to find myself again, and to live my passion, I would have to stop depending on people to define my worth.

Ironically, when I realized that I was ok being alone, I miraculously became ok with whatever love others wanted to give to me as well. 
And the caterpillar begins to emerge........

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Be The Powerhouse

"I am invincible- as long as I'm alive."
John Mayer

In the Book of Awakening Mark Nepo tells a story of a woman interviewing for a job, explaining her desperate need for the acceptance of the interviewer.  "She found herself yelping 'Pick me, pick me!' like a puppy in a pound." he claims.

Wow- that I can relate to.  I've lost myself to religion, men, bosses, friends, name it and I've been insecure about it at one time or another.  Yes, I have sinned.  Yes, I have wanted you to want me.  Yes, I have worked 14 hour days for you.  Yes, I have taken care of you.  Yes, I believed your stories.  But finally I understand that it is  MY responsibility to put myself in situations of empowerment.  It's my job to love me.  I'm the true ruler of my destiny.  Period.
Ironically, I've found that my true being shines when I've chosen to push way outside of my comfort zone.

That time when I ran farther than my mind could even fathom.  
That time when I spoke in front of hundreds of people. 
That time that I crossed the Grand Canyon and back.
That time when I said a forever goodbye.
That time when I took my first swim lesson. 
That time when I spent crazy money on a bike.
That time when I walked away.
That time that I was fearless in front of the camera.
That time when I told him that I was in love.

Who made those choices?  Me.  Who did the work?  Me.   
But in my journey to find my power, I find myself yearning to give others the strength and encouragement to be fearless and strong.
Mary Kay Ash stated,  "Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says make me feel important."
What an amazing challenge for us!  When we are lucky enough to find someone who realizes our true potential- someone who values us for the quirky, beautiful mess that we are; it is a blessing which falls like warm rain on the course back to happiness.

How will you find your courage?  How will you find your strong? 
Be the powerhouse.  Be the sunshine.  For it is then that your warmth energizes the world.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Experience. Bitch, or angel in disguise?

“Oh life, it's bigger
It's bigger than you
And you are not me
The lengths that I will go to
The distance in your eyes
Oh no, I've said too much
I've said enough……” 

C.S. Lewis states that “experience is the most brutal of teachers.” 
Perhaps it the vampire that sucks your lifeblood, leaving you wasted and empty;  or the monster under your bed contriving fitful and sleepless nights.   She’s a true bitch sometimes, but it seems that experience may be the only roadway that leads to authentic bliss. 

We fully love, because we have tragically lost.
We cherish, because times are scarce.
We are courageous, because we ate fear for breakfast. 
We make the call, because we are stifled by loneliness
We lift others, because we ourselves are digging out of the quicksand. 

I’m truly awestruck at the many pathways life’s journeys have lead me on.  I look back with adoration for the people that I’ve loved and those that I’ve learned from.  I bask in the easy, and become stronger with each challenge.   I toil through sickness, and dance in my health.  My heart is broken- yet it keeps on pumping life.
Oh, if only I could learn to relish and appreciate each experience without judgment or regret ...but I fear that won't happen until the journey is over.  And so is life.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Just sit down and enjoy the ride

"Back to Life, Back to Reality......"
Soul to Soul

As the plane takes off steadily toward the sky, my stomach aches with a sense of dread.  Back to life, back to reality, back to the here and now....
Anticipated events are often followed by a period of letdown for me.  After the big race or a dreamy vacation, its easy to be blanketed by negative energy.  The apprehension affects not only my mental but also my physical being, and I become moody and tired.
But, other than just waiting for time to heal the hurt, how can we escape that post- bliss depression?  I believe the answer is to continuously evoke the FEELING which that incredible event created in our day to day lives.  If the vacation brought you peace and relaxation, then meditate at home.  If it brought you a sense of adventure, take a risk at work.  If it gave you a sense of youthful playfulness, then play tag with your kids.  We must create these situations in our everyday existence, for those are the feelings that our stargazer mind is searching for.  How can we love more?  How can we play more?  How can we become more ALIVE? 

First, I vow to grateful. I shout out how thankful I am for an amazing experience with my best friend who I love dearly.  I breathe in the memory of the dance that uplifted my spirits.  I drink in the laughter and song.    I meditate only on the wonderful feelings those memories gifted me. 

Then I act on that feeling.  I send it to others.  I text someone I care about and send a card.  I give a compliment and extra hugs.  I respond instead of reacting.  I trust instead of giving in to fear. 

Finally, I resolve to embrace the world just as it is. 
Pema Chodron says that "Everything we encounter, good and bad, pleasant and painful, is a means by which we can awaken further."  Life just is.  Let go of the struggle.  When we can relax and have a genuine and passionate relationship with uncertainly, everyday can become filled with the joy of vacation.  What if we decided just to sit down, buckle up and enjoy the ride?

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Come on and touch me baby.....

“Yeah! Come on, come on, come on, come on
Now touch me, baby
Can’t you see that I am not afraid?
What was that promise that you made?”

The Doors

I closed my eyes and slid my achy feet into the warm and welcoming water.  He washed them, gently at first.... becoming more brazen with my responsiveness.    His thumbs, awash in a minty mask, tenderly massaged my calves and I moaned slightly with tingly delight. He buffed my calluses, clipped my cuticles and painted my toenails bright pink (even though one was missing). 
I think I’m in love with the short Asian guy at “Perfect 10” nail salon……    

The gift of touch- how often do we take it for granted?  Drooling a little as your skilled hair dresser massages your head with a delectable shampoo.   Sweet Eskimo kisses with your babies or a fist bump from your teenager.  Having your fingers entwined with your love’s, or breathy kisses on the nape of your neck.   Sex so mind blowing that you don’t care if you ever get out of bed again. 
That’s the stuff.  That’s connection.  That’s living.

Research shows that touch increases the relaxation response and lowers blood pressure.  It reduces pain, and promotes the restoration of your immune system. Even snuggling up to a furry friend (like your dog or cat) melts both your heart and stress. 

When I worked for Back on My Feet, I got in the habit of hugging.  Everyone loves a big bear hug and it has been proven that embracing releases oxytocin, the “bonding hormone”.  It was so amazing to watch people of all different classes and races let their guard down and just love.  To this day I will still give a very inappropriate hug the first time I meet someone.    
You miss it don't you?  Seek out contact.  Get a facial or a massage.  Hug your mom.  Squeeze grandma’s hand.   Love the one you’re with.  Life is too short to miss out on the amazing benefits of touch. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Work hard, play harder

"Catch me if you can!" Tonisha yells, taunting the lanky boy closest to her while tagging him on the shoulder.  They both take off, hooting and hollering, because for the next 15 minutes they know they can abandon all work. 

I love watching my class at recess. The children romp together squealing and laughing.  They run until their faces are red and their braids are sweaty.  They pump their legs on the swing while dreaming of flying.  They climb to the highest peak of the jungle gym, and swing upside down on the monkey bars.  "Look at me Mrs. Kimble!" they shout, and I shower them with accolades.

Recess means freedom, and that's how my training feels to me- sweet recess! 
While I swim I can be a dolphin or a mermaid.  I can cross the English Channel or escape from Alcatraz.  When I run trails, I dance with fairies, and on the road I rival cheetahs.  
On the bike I'm speed racer, my legs burning with fire as I drive uphill.

"Catch me if you can skinny girl" the portly boy called during the bike portion of the Redman Tri. 
I pumped my legs harder on the uphill, passing him easily... only to be frustratingly caught again on the down hills.  "I told you I'd pass you" he jeered in a sing song voice.  "Don't worry" I called.  "I'll catch you on the run."  Cause that's how I roll. 

Yes, I work hard, but I play harder.  Run, bike and swim like a beast.  
And by the way, If you're beside me in spin class.......yes, we're racing, because for 1 hour, I am free. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

5 ways to climb your way out of a funk in 24 hours

I have been in a funk for about a month now.   You know what?  I'm not going to lie- It's more than a funk.   I've been miserable.  Work is stressful and overbearing.  I'm barely keeping my head above water.  I've pulled away from those I love the most leaving me bitter and lonely.  I'm not doing yoga or meditation and I've abandoned my spiritual connection with God and the universe.  I've been self absorbed.  Shame on me.  

Luckily, after spending 8 hours in a continuing education class for math teachers  on Saturday, I was gifted with the chance to meet Jorge in Waco, leaving all things stressful in the rear view mirror.
 "For one night," I  told him, " I don't want to think about work. Lets just have fun."
 I realize the definition of "fun" is different for different people.  But here's what I found to help me rise above my state of depression.    Maybe you can try it to.  :)

1.  Surround yourself with people who love you.  The ones who have given you the best days you've ever had.  Amazing people that think you're the shit for the quirky, beautiful mess that you are.  Be with people who believe you are strong enough.  The ones who show you that you matter. The ones who make you giggle until your stomach hurts, and leave you going to bed with a worry free smile on your face. 

2.  Eat real food.  Amazing food.  Food so beautiful  it brings a tear to your eye.  Real cream and butter- Mmmmm!  Opulent wine- ooooh baby!  Fat and sugar- yes!  yes!!!  Take your taste buds to the peak of pleasure until they are full.  And satisfied. 

3.  SLEEP.  Hard.  Dream.  Drool.   Enough said.

4.  Get outside!  Let the sun kiss your face and breathe in the fresh air.  Run until you are hands- on -your- legs gasping at the top of the hill.  Swim through the seaweed.  Jump in the mud.  Whatever makes you feel ALIVE and part of a bigger universe. 

5.  Be Grateful.
To live to love,
To work to play. 
To teach, to learn,
to dance, sing and paint. 
To look into someone's beautiful brown eyes and plant a kiss on their lips. 
Its a miracle.  A blessing. 
Thanks be to God for this crazy, funky life. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Addicted to ......

You like to think that you're immune to the stuff...oh yeah
It's closer to the truth to say you can't get enough
you know you're gonna have to face it
you’re addicted to …..”
Robert Palmer

It’s been a really tough day. I’m completely overwhelmed at work- so much so that I am paralyzed as to what steps to take next.  My plants at home are dying, there are dishes in the sink, I have bags under my eyes and a 2250m swim on my schedule.  Instead of resting or cleaning - I choose to swim. 
Hello, my name is Jennifer and I’m an exercise addict.

As I dive into the pool and slice through the water, I immediately sense all of my concerns wash away. I no longer anguish about objectives or displays of learning.  Lesson plans and routines drown.  Long term planning, short term goals- who cares?  I’m meditating; pushing my body beyond what I thought was capable of.  I am bathing in dopamine and serotonin; and I feel amazing.

I have never done drugs (but have had too much to drink on occasion) and can only imagine that this sensation must be very similar.  It is said that amphetamines (speed) cause feelings of euphoria, mental focus and resilience against physical fatigue.  I can compare that to crawling into the gym in a foul mood, and come out revived.  I penetrate the water in a mental fog, and come out to crystal skies.  I arrive exhausted, and leave exhilarated. 

Studies show that “In addition to the beneficial long-term effects of a sustained exercise program, there are also short-term benefits of exercise that wear off after an hour or two. These include an increased pain threshold, reduction of acute anxiety and "runner's high." Runner's high (which can occur following any intense aerobic exercise, not just running) is a short-lasting, deeply euphoric state that's well beyond the simple relaxation”

 The word “high” has such negative connotations, but that IS how I feel after I finish a workout- accomplished, gratified…..even intoxicated. 
I’m so grateful that I have fund an outlet for my addictive personality.  I have no doubt that I could be strung out on something harmful to my body, instead of exercise that makes it powerful and strong. 

"You see the signs, but you can't read
You're runnin' at a different speed
Your heart beats in double time
Another kiss and you'll be mine, a one track mind
You can't be saved
Oblivion is all you crave
If there's some left for you
You don't mind if you do….."




Monday, August 5, 2013

The Rose Tattoo

Irene C Cassorla

42 years ago my mom and dad started to tell their little girl a story. 

It was about a “good girl” who ate all her veggies, and went to bed early.  She made straight A’s, sang in the choir and volunteered at the nursing home.  They said good girls didn’t smoke, or drink or do drugs.  They didn’t have sex before marriage and they were expected to be in the front pew of The First United Methodist Church with their family every Sunday morning. 
They said I was a good girl as long as I stayed on the confined pages of their book. 

It wasn’t long before other characters entered the story and started writing for the grown up woman she had become.  They told her that “good people” work night and day, and they volunteer, and keep themselves healthy and fit.  They said she would be happy if she married, and had kids.  Oh, and she should have a nice big house that she cleaned feverishly before dinner parties and BBQ’s. 

But the woman became bored with the story that others were writing for her, and decided to write her own.  She could not type fast enough about the adventure and drama; passion and romance that would be her future.    She finally understood what Don Miguel meant when he said that the “impact of others opinions and reactions become a very strong force in the habits we create.”  She knew that other people’s assumptions and opinions were no longer her truth.

The rose tattoo on her side is there to remind her of her quest for personal freedom, and the beautiful life that will blossom and grow when she is the writer of her own destiny. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

"How can you run so far?"

People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they'll go to any length to live longer. But don't think that's the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you're going to while away the years, it's far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that's the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree”
Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

When people find out that I run ultras I’m often asked “How can you run that far?” proceeded by “I hate running,” or “I used to run, but now I have bad knees.” 
It’s curious to me that some people see exercise as a task or punishment.  To me, exercise is a chance to   experience magnificent places free of worry.  The hypnotic rhythm of my pace lulls me into that space where I am able to surrender to my soul’s needs, and I hit the off switch on my brain. 

I think people run ultra-races (more than 26.2) for many, very personal reasons.   For me, it was simply because someone told me that I could, and I really wanted to believe him.  I wanted to believe that I was the girl who was physically and mentally strong enough to run 100 miles, so I just kept moving.  That’s it.  There is nothing special about me, except that I always go to the starting line knowing that eventually, I WILL finish.  Dean Karnanzes said “Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up” and that is my motto in ultra-running.  Relentless forward motion.

I’m so blessed that my sport has taken me to breathtaking places I would never get to see otherwise, and I pick races because I want to run in the woods, listen to babbling streams and become intoxicated with fresh air.  I want to experience a nature that leads me to myself.  How do I run that far?  It goes something like this:

Miles 1-30.  Awe and amazement.  How am I so lucky that I get to run here?   I run cautiously walking all uphill while taking in the magnificent scenery.  I am alive. Giddy.

Miles 30-50. Doubts begin to creep in.  I’m not even to the halfway point.  Are my legs heavy already?  Gosh I’m walking a lot.  Too much?   
“Oh look, there’s a chipmunk!”
I find someone to talk to until I can pick up my pacer at mile 50, and try to stay calm and positive.

Mile 50-75.  At mile 50 I’m half way there.  This is a huge confidence booster.  I pick up my pacer at mile 60, and even though it’s dark,  they always bring new light.  Now I have someone to think for me.  Now I am safe. 

Mile 75-90.   Just so tired.  Complete mental meltdown.  Often crying.  Need calories and sleep.  This is the “pain cave” that everyone speaks of, and I still have almost a marathon to go.  I can’t do this.  How am I going to do this?  Relentless forward motion
Mile 90.   There is a light at the end of the tunnel.  Just 10 miles.  I can do anything for 10 miles.

Mile 95- I don’t have to save it anymore.  Let’s run to the finish.
Mile 100- Am I really allowed to stop?  It’s hard to convince my brain.  I collapse into a chair.  Happy?  Yes, but more importantly insanely tired and hungry.  Please feed me and let me sleep.   I promise to be ecstatic in the morning when reality settles in. :)

Why do I run so far?  It makes for amazing memories that give me strength to live this life to the fullest.  More simply?  Because I can.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Enjoy the ride

"Just play.  Have fun.  Enjoy the game."
Michael Jordon
The speedometer on my bike reads 32 mph as I skyrocket downhill.  The speed is exhilarating as my adrenaline pumped body surrenders to the rush of air and unbridled momentum. 

“If you fell right now it would be so bad…” my brain warns.
“But this feels amazing!” I fight back
“And you know you’re going to have to go back up this hill on the return” it taunts.
I’ll deal with that later” I retort.  “Can you please sit back, relax and enjoy the ride?”

More often than not, my workouts gift me with life lessons, presenting not only mirrors to current stresses, but answers and solutions.  It’s really a blessing in disguise.
I have been haunted by a lot of “what ifs” lately. 

What if I have to climb a hill? 
Then I’ll switch gears and pedal until I finally get to the top.
What if I fall? 
Then I’ll get back up.
What if I can’t keep up? 
Then I’m strong enough to go it alone. 

My finding is that if I just keep going eventually I hit that even road to sail on.  Sometimes I come across someone to draft behind, or I get the push of a tailwind.  Sometimes I fly downhill and get to stop peddling all together, and often I stop and just take in the beauty that the day presents. 
I’m beginning to understand how important this minute is- right now; and that it’s all a part of enjoying the ride. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Perfect in my imperfection

My feet are callused in covering the earth.
My knees are scarred from daring risks.
My belly is soft and I have three beautiful babies.
My chest is freckled -kissed by the sun.
My mouth is wrinkled from too much smiling
And I am perfect in my imperfection.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Empowering our teachers

“Import illuminates the way to happiness”   
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

 It’s Field Day Friday and everyone is happy at my school…because we have 13 days left before summer vacation. 
Are we excited about the everyday teachable moments that are to come in the next few weeks? 
Are we happy that we get to touch the future?
We are happy that we are getting away from it all very soon. 

Teaching school is laborious. Through state testing and unreal expectations, our “flow” state has been seized.  Creativity is no longer celebrated and we are daunted by the futility of keeping up with demands.  We are frustrated by the treadmill of rising expectations and feel out of control.  We are micromanaged, discouraged and drained.

 Dallas- we have a serious problem.     
When teachers tell you that they get a stomachache on Sunday evenings because they have to go to work the next morning- something is wrong!  When teachers tell you that they feel unsupported and unappreciated-that should not be ignored!   When teachers tell you that their emotional bank accounts are overdrawn- they will be walking out of your school soon!

 As a coach, I understand the importance of motivation.  My client and I first set clear and achievable goals together.   I then provide them with immediate feedback, letting them know where they are and how far they have come.   Coaches encourage so that the athlete feels strong, motivated and confident.  The athletes’ motivation soon becomes intrinsic as they discover what they are truly capable of.  In return many want to share that power and inspire others through their love of sport. 

Don’t we owe this kind of empowerment to our teachers?  Shouldn’t we make our external conditions match our goals?  Don’t teachers deserve to enjoy what they do and derive pleasure from coloring outside the lines?

Teachers deserve a good coach who motivates and uplifts them.  They deserve a strong sense of self, a passionate boss with a love for life and learning.  Teachers deserve more than time off to regain their power.  They deserve appreciation and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with changing one’s life.

I implore you to start celebrating the gifts that teachers share- because I promise that they are smart enough to search for their bliss in another profession.     

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Awakening Heart

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.”  Buddha

She sat down in the silence to meditate, floating out of her body to scrutinize the 41 year old woman sitting cross-legged and fidgety.  She dove in- past the freckled skin, through strong muscles and dense bones -straight to her heart. 
There she asked for compassion. 

Compassion for the little girl whose mother left when she was 7.
Compassion for the 3rd grader who made her first B.
Compassion for the teenager held prisoner in her own house. 
Compassion for the college student who learned she wasn’t good at everything. 
Compassion for the young teacher who prayed she would get in a car accident on the way to work, and compassion for the woman who lost her first baby girl when she was 16 weeks pregnant.

She admired the mother that sometimes loses her patience, the woman who works too much, and the athlete that often is unappreciative of her body’s constant sacrifice.

She admitted anger towards her sidekick who died and left her way too soon. 

She honored the marriage that ended in divorce, acquitted the friend that often doesn’t call back, and forgave her heart for doubting its capacity to give and receive love. 

 And when she did, her soul covered her in a protective blanket of grace, and she finally believed that she was deserving of an unconditional love.  And she was no longer afraid.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Fancy equipment or not- we are all God

Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in the eyes of the Divine. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, and no more greed. … I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other.—Thomas Merton

Saturday is packet pickup and transition set up day for the St Anthony’s triathlon.  I am surrounded my millions of dollars of intimidating equipment.   Statuesque bodies set up $5,000.00 bikes, $350.00 swim skins, $200.00 running shoes, and various other equipment lined in perfect rows.  As I look out into the ocean that is to be my battleground, I feel deflated.  I’m a trail runner, I don’t belong here.  How did I get talked into this?   
But on race morning as I line up with one hundred and twenty other 40-44 year old females, I no longer feel threatened, but INSPIRED!  Our bodies are squeezed into black wetsuits and our hair is hidden under red swim caps.  We kiss the sand with our painted toenails and goggles disguise the color of our eyes.  We look the same.  The same nervous energy bounces through the crowd as we swing our arms to warm up.  We gasp the same breath as we step into the cold ocean.  Our hearts have the same intention, our souls the same courage.   For a moment I ponder how each woman came to be here.  Is she a mom?  Does she work full time?  Does she train at 3 in the morning or 9:00 at night?  What has she endured?  What has she given?
The horn sounds and as we dive into the choppy ocean together in one big group, I am reminded once again of the divinity that resides within all beings.  Fancy equipment or not, we are all God. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I don't give a rat's ass about Gwyneth Paltrow's "Slim Body Secrets"

You're insecure, Don’t know what for,
You're turning heads when you walk through the door,
Don't need make-up, to cover up,

Being the way that you are is enough.
Right now I'm looking at you and I can't believe.....
You don't know you're beautiful,
That's what makes you beautiful.

One Direction

 The April issue of SELF magazine made me throw up in my own mouth.

Maybe I’m just getting old; but its cover promise of “waking up gorgeous, melting 10 lbs. of belly fat, and a toned butt and thighs,” really made me think about how much our ego plays into our psyche.    

Why do we spend so much time and energy trying to change ourselves? 
Because we believe we would be happier if we dropped 10 lbs? 
Because we believe someone would love us more if there were no dark circles under our eyes? 

I’m a HUGE promoter of health and wellness.  I believe in being healthy and strong so you can climb to the top of Pikes Peak to see the breathtaking view.  I believe in self-confidence and athleticism so that you can take in the Grand Canyon from Rim to Rim (and back).  I believe in sweaty yoga that feels like the best massage, and the exhilaration of flying down a hill on your bike at 40 mph.

However, I know that finding the right moisturizer to look younger or following Gwyneth Paltrow’s plan for slim body secrets” will give you a complex- not inner strength. 

Tara Grady once said, “A person is only beautiful, when their own beauty, is reflecting onto others.”  I’ve seen this beauty.  It is striking and vibrant.  It can be seen with your eyes, and felt with your heart.   It has muscles and guts and vigor. 
I wish more magazines would share about the light from within.  Then we would all be truly beautiful inside and out.

Monday, March 25, 2013

"If I die out here today...."

“I may be going to hell in a bucket baby- but at least I’m enjoying the ride!”
The Grateful Dead

 The clouds are thick and foreboding, the air heavy and moist.  Chilling electricity strokes the hair on my arms and it’s clear that my trail running friends and I are about to face a tempest.  We’re at mile 4, in the middle of a cow pasture when the lightning strikes.  We count “one, two…..”CRASH!    
Hail pelts us in the face and we laugh to disguise our fear. 
“If I die out here today….just know that I died happy”  I tell my running buddies.
The truth is that I really would be happy if I died doing something I love like running trails.  I’m not afraid to die.  I believe that the source of my being (whatever you want to call it in your religion) is all light and true love, and that I will return to that source when I die. 
But while I am here with this borrowed body, I want to experience and enjoy all this earth has to offer. 

 I want to climb mountains and to run through forests so green that you believe that fairies really do exist. 
To ride fast and free, and swim in water so clear that you can see the bottom of the ocean. 
To breathe air so fresh and clean that you become intoxicated.

 I want to drink wine as red as blood, and coffee so strong that I can’t sit still.  To eat milk chocolate that melts in your hands and your mouth, and warm scones covered in honey.

 I want to give long kisses, and big bear hugs.  I want to snuggle by the fire, and stay awake all night because I can’t get enough of your voice. 

 I want to take warm showers with mint soap that makes my skin tingle, and dry myself with fluffy towels fresh from the dryer. 

 I want to experience pain and pleasure all in the same day.  To laugh until my belly hurts  and cry myself to sleep.  To dance and sing, to be still and to listen.

 I want to give and to be compassionate.  To learn and to grow.

.And when I have accomplished all that this life has to offer me, I will gratefully return to my source. 
Fearless, free and truly happy.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Wake up and Live!

“I feel I’m on top again lately, it’s got everything to do with you.  I’m alive.”  Love and Rockets
You’ve seen it in movies like How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Eat, Pray, Love.  The forty something year old woman loses herself to a mundane life.  She forgets that she is strong, and beautiful and wise.  She forgets the source of her soul, and that she is light and love.  She forgets what it’s like to feel alive. 
Over the past three years I have been on a quest to feel:  to be fearless, compassionate and free.  I’ve found that the people I have been drawn to- those free souls- have the following qualities that make you want to be near them.  They make you feel safe and comfortable….. Just plain happy! 
Free souls are passionate.  They enjoy their life and the people in their life.  They open themselves to adventure, even though they know they could possibly fail.  They are confident, energetic and romantic. 
They are grateful.  They believe that we don’t “earn” or “own” anything in this life, but that we have the pleasure of borrowing our bodies, possessions and relationships while we are here on earth.  They consistently thank the universe for those blessings.
They are compassionate.  They believe that all beings come from the same source which is pure light and love.  That all beings have something to contribute here on this earth, and that all beings fight some kind of battle on our visit here.  We are the same- therefore we appreciate each other.
They have no expectations.  Peaceful people do not expect others to act a certain way, do certain things or have certain beliefs.  They may be disappointed in another’s actions, but they know that it is not our job to change people.
They are fearless.  They take risks and they ask for what they need.  They keep in constant communication with their instinct so that they are not eaten up by worry or doubt.
They love.  They send love out into the world no matter what their circumstances.  They give because they love, they serve because they love, and they live because they love. 
Oprah Winfrey said “Surround yourself with only people who will lift you higher.”  In my quest to do this I have learned to love unconditionally, I have let go of any expectations for the people that I cross paths with, and I have learned that I can’t save the world- but I can love the world.  By remembering my source, I’ve found my soul and passion.   And that is how Jennifer got her groove back. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Running through my divorce

"Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you.....
Life has a funny, funny way- of helping you out."
Alanis Morrissette

Late August- It's stupid hot.
My foot has healed, but my heart is heavy.  Marriage counseling is going nowhere and even though it is my decision, the reality of seperation stifles me like a think blanket .  I need to move- to escape, and although I have not been able to run in almost 3 months I decided to train for the Cactus Rose 100.  I know that completing this race will help me to overcome my fear of being on my own for the first time....well- ever.  I train almost every day and sweat like a banshee. It keeps me sane.

October 31st- 2:00 a.m.
Tears stream down my face as I follow my pacer up Ice Cream Hill in Bandera, Texas.  I'm broken.  Sleepwalking maybe?  Hungry, cold and wasted.  There  is nothing else to do but to keep moving forward.  I finish the race in 31 hours, and head home to sign divorce papers the next week.
It's funny how a strenuous race can make everything else in life seem so much easier.....

Late December- 4:00 a.m.
I'm up training before I head to my new teaching job.  It's fun and rewarding- but also challenging and exhausting.  I've been sick ever since the second week of school, first with bronchitis and then the flu. Christmas is daunting, so as soon as I'm well I crank up the miles again.  Bandera 100K is just a few weeks away. If I can complete this race and Rocky 100, I will earn the honor of completing the "Tejas 300".  A hefty goal that helps me to focus, and for the time I'm training- I can forget.

January 12- Grouchy:30
More papers signed and we are getting close to the divorce being final.  I almost quit Bandera at the half way point today.  I've just had enough- the mud, the rocks, the heat and humidity, not to mention the settling and figuring and worrying. But I am blessed with good friends who have been with me every step of the way and they don't let me drop.  And, as they say in ultrarunning- it doesn't always get worse. The second loop goes surprisingly well. 

January 20th. 
Bright blue skies and beautiful weather.  Run with friends and breakfast complete, I start moving my stuff out of the house. The kids are getting used to the fact that mom will now be living in an apartment across the street, and in two weeks I will complete the trifecta by running the Rocky Raccoon 100 in Huntsville.  Today I can take a deep breath and smile, because life continues on in relentless forward motion- as do I.   And who knows?  Maybe the second loop will go surprisingly well.....