Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Monday, June 22, 2020
"He guessed as well as he could, and crawled along for a good way, till suddenly his hand met what felt like a tiny ring of cold metal lying on the floor of the tunnel. It was a turning point but he did not know it. He put the ring in his pocket almost without thinking; certainly it did not seem of any particular use at the moment."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
When my daughter was younger, she told me, on our drive to school, about a fascinating dream she had. She was studying geography at the time, and her dream was about one of her teachers narrating a story. The teacher’s words were magically projected in a way that the kids could actually see the story unfolding in front of them like a hologram. It was about a man who owned a beautiful, magical gold ring that he had mistakenly left on top of a cliff. A cliff overlooked the ocean, with crashing waves. A villain climbed the cliff and stole the ring and disappeared with it. When the owner of the ring returned, he was terribly distraught to learn that it had disappeared. He searched high and low for the ring and just when he thought there was nowhere else to look and was ready to give up his search, he happened to reach in his pocket and there was the ring—it had been there all along.
Of course, Mama the shrink found this dream to be fascinating, but I spared her a dream analysis discussion and just let her be excited about the dream at face value. The best part for her was the live projection from the teacher’s mere words. But I couldn’t help thinking afterwards about the symbolism in the dream and how it could apply to us all. We all have those villains and demons, the ones who steal our magic gold ring. For some it can be an external source of discouragement, listening to what others tell them they can or can’t do. For many of us, it’s that internal voice who steals the ring. The voice that says for example, “Your injury will never heal, and you’ll never do another race again.” Or where the villainous voice in your head says loud and clear, “You—26.2 miles—HAHAHAHAHAHAHA--are you kidding me?” How easy it is to sink into the quicksand of self-doubt. But eventually, we remember we have a gold ring, somewhere. Really, how many times have we been through this “are you kidding me?” mentality only to cross the finish line when it’s time.
So again, let me remind you (in my ad nauseam way) to be fully present with the aspects of our lives that we can control. Focus on our training plan one week at a time. Or if recovering from injury, focus on the next step to healing and getting stronger. Or losing weight. Or rethinking the cancelled season. Or pondering our small part in making the world a better place. Because right now we can’t look too far into the future. We can’t assume that everything about this uncertain future will be bad—it never is. During these times, reach down and feel the gold ring--you may have misplaced it, but it always ends up back in your pocket.
Thursday, May 7, 2020
|L to R: My great-grandmother, grandmother, yours truly, and Mom|
Fifteen years later, her presence still illuminates a room. She has opened up a side of me that no one else had been able to see. My late partner used to tell the story that in the many years we had been together before having a child, she had never heard me sing—never, not once, not in the car, not in the shower, karaoke was out of the question...not anywhere. But what kind of mother doesn’t sing to her child...well, if you dare to call the noise that came out of my mouth, “singing.” I haven’t stopped singing since then. I learned to be an expert in pretending. Over the years I have been the voice of Cinderella, Snow White, Gepetto, and the Wicked Witch of the West. Then we passed the princess phase and I was Selkie, the sea lion from Nim’s Island or sometimes an evil pirate-Arrrghhh. We used to blare music and dance around the kitchen after dinner every night. It was for her sake ten or so years ago that I pushed myself to improve my health, lose 100 lbs and start triathlon training. And perhaps, if it wasn’t for her, would I be a triathlete?
|Holding my little creature, just a few days old|
Well, it’s been many years since we’ve pretended. More recently, we discuss our binge watching of Grey’s Anatomy, and she does a great Ellen Pompeo impression. Now, she can talk twice as fast as I can during an argument and is way more articulate. There are times when I foster this sense of autonomy and other times when I draw the very clear boundary of who is the child and who is the parent. She knows the look on my face that means don’t push another millimeter. At times I’m not very popular, but this is not about a popularity contest. This is about the creation of a world citizen who is kind, loving, respectful, independent, and confident. One who can have fun and will find happiness, in whatever way she defines happiness to be. I love hearing her ideas of social justice, and her idealism about a world that is often hard to be idealist about.
Monday, April 13, 2020
Before I tell you about my secret weapon for staying sane (sane being relative), I want to help put into perspective what it is that we may be feeling right now, whether it be loss due to circumstances or loss due to injury. David Kessler, one of the most well-respected authorities on grief, has put a name to the discomfort that most of us are feeling at this time. In an interview, he stated, “Anticipatory grief is that feeling we get about what the future holds when we’re uncertain. Anticipatory grief is also more broadly imagined futures.”
I found it ironic, how many times I’d ridden past the very place where we would come to find this little creature who would bring so much joy to our home. If you ever want your mood to soar off the charts, spend about 30 minutes in a pen full of 8 week old puppies. These little blonde balls looked like popcorn as they jumped and bounced off the walls, climbing all over each other. It reminded me of an Ironman mass swim start (minus kicked in the face)—complete mayhem. Each of them trying so desperately to be in front so that they could make contact. Except one. One teeny not-so-blonde, but very orange one, that nosed her way to the front of the pen by crawling underneath all her brothers and sisters in stealth commando style, finally just curling up right next to us. That was her statement; subtle, yet effective. My daughter made her decision at that moment and picked this runt of the litter. Our friend Kristin came up with the name Clementine (Clemmie)-how perfect for a teeny orange ball. Clemmie had her sights set on her goal, and found the best way to achieve it. It wasn’t the way everyone else was doing it, instead she used her strengths to her advantage.
Lesson 3: Rejuvenation is an integral part of training and life. One thing that has always been difficult for many athletes, is allowing time for rest and recovery. The one common statement I have heard from people over the past couple of weeks is, “I’m so unmotivated to train or work out.” Or “I just feel sooooo exhausted.” Uh yeah. This pandemic will forever change our lives—not in all negative ways, but right now we are adapting to new conditions from this global crisis. Please ignore those Facebook posts of those who are sharing their superhuman productivity. Whether it be not missing a beat and continuing perfect adherence to training plans (but good for you if you are),or doing 50 hill repeats a day or power-lifting mammoth sized weights in the basement. This is a marathon with an unpredictable, movable finish line. If you’re a marathon runner, you know you’re likely to hit the wall at mile 18. But you know at 26.2 miles you’re there! But what if you got to mile 26.2 and the race director said, “sorry we’re moving the finish line to possibly, but I’m not sure, maybe 32.6 miles and then we’ll go from there.” If you knew this beforehand, you’d know to pace yourself very differently. Similarly, we need to emotionally and physically pace ourselves. As Clemmie would say, it’s always ok to pause.
When I was competing, I was blessed to have so many people who inspire me. I think of my little runt (well, now she is 55 lbs and still growing), who, despite being mauled by her littermates, kept slowly inching forward and never gave up. She has an infectious enthusiasm for life. She puts her heart into new endeavors, whether it be learning new commands, swimming for the first time, having a calming effect on clients, or exploring a new area. As we heal from this global trauma, I know for myself, each time I feel overwhelmed with uncertainty about life, about my injury, about my triathlon training and start to look too far ahead, what brings me back is living like Clemmie, thinking about every moment, this moment, the only moment.
Thursday, March 26, 2020
“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”
You can visit my website at: http://www.aimforchange.com