Monday, July 9, 2018

Mysteries of the Mind

             I went to the 24-hour gym to do my 9 miles at 10pm last night. To help my mind from melting into mush during the run I watched endless episodes of some unsolved mysteries on Amazon Prime.... the normally fearless Miriam left the gym at 1am absolutely terrified that I'd be the horrible victim of some crime, worse yet, an unsolved crime!!!..... it's funny now....but last night I was not in a good space parking and walking to my door...alone, in the dark. This is coming from a woman who use to run DC streets at 4am, in winter. This proves that we humans are very impressionable beings, we believe completely everything we put into our minds....the operative words here are, "we put in"....meaning, we all along we can control what we put in our thoughts......... NO MORE unsolved murder mysteries shows for me.... next time I will stick to comedy...

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Let the Chips Fall Where They May

                As women get older they change in many ways that are different from men. Surely there are lots of studies out there specifically describing the many differences between both sexes as they age, yet, it's been my experience that women shed a lot as they get older, they get bolder, they feel less afraid, and more decisive overall; women find a more powerful versions of themselves as they age. They shed the drama, the fears, the doubts. They shed the need for approval and reach a level of self-dependence that undoubtedly creates rough ripples in  the delicate relationship balance that exists between one's friends or family. Yet, these casualties are a necessary part of finding inner peace. If someone were to offer me youth over staying at my age of 45 I'd stay put, thank you very much.  

               I feel MUCH more comfortable in my own skin at age 45 than I have ever felt my entire life, and that is change worth celebrating. One aspect of getting older which has helped to make my life better overall has been making sure that every energy that comes from me strongly aligns with my comfort level. Depending solely on my own intuition on whether or not to trust experiences as they come has been instrumental in this mass shedding. The older I get the more emotionally independent I feel and the more clearly I am able to see people's true motives, and, the older I get the less I need to act upon these external influences. Let the sleeping dragons sleep. AS mentioned above, the delicate balance that has been built between you and your family and friends will undoubtedly be disrupted as you find your inner strength. Because lots of these relationships have been built on top one's own disingenuous past self these relationships may most likely be unfortunate victims to the mass culling. 

                 Not all relationships are victims of this mass culling. True loving relationships always find a way to make it past these hurdles. I remember when I first started running it shook up my family dynamics quite a bit. My husband and I had lots of fights. And please understand that my husband was in full support of me running, yet, he was not used to the amount of time I put into it. Most loved ones, no matter how much they love you, will always fight against any and all change, totally normal; it is the way we humans are built. The key to my change was it's relentlessness. I, of course, listened to his concerns, such as about being out too much for long runs on the weekend and I made sure to accommodate his concerns by running earlier in the mornings before anyone was up yet. Yet, I made sure not give up what mattered to me the most, which was do these races and to train for them over long hours. Relentlessly seeking out what makes you YOU is the key. People that love you will be there after it all blows apart and when all the dust settles, they will be there adjusting, but there. The few that continue to wait for you to be the old you and never manage to acclimate to the new you will silently distance themselves into the background. If the YOU that you genuinely are is not the right you for someone and they expect you to be something you are genuinely not, one cannot in all honesty call that true or pure love, that is closer to bullying or bordering on control. Both results, staying or walking away are perfectly okay in my world. Both results are part of our learning experience here on earth. I love the ones I love dearly, but this round of growth I love ME so much more than anyone else in my life....and in the end I need to be able to live with myself first and foremost. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Reflexion on Forgiveness

        Been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately. After hearing about Anthony Ray Hinton and his book, The Sun Does Shine I was so impressed and humbled by his ability to pick up and move forward after being incarcerated for 30 years while innocent and it started me thinking about forgiveness, about what things have I got to forgive and vice versa, and how easy is it for me to forgive? 

       First, I believe in learning from your mistakes. Yet, that approach is only the "cousin" of what one considers real forgiveness to be, for 'learning from your mistakes' acts in similar ways, yet, although we learn from our mistakes there's nothing there about what our hearts need to do to truly move past the pain. Let me provide you with the perfect example. A dear friend I use to work with and whom I have devoted many hours helping get her life together came to my house for dinner a little over a year ago. In the time we had not seen each other, before the dinner, I had put on a few pounds. The minute she saw me at the dinner she began talking about how much weight I've put on, in front of my other guests, my husband and my kids. Now, to someone that's grown up with severe negative body issues (and even to anyone who hasn't), someone mentioning your increasing weight is like a thousand little stabs to my heart, it was a very scaring experience. Last week, she called me and left me a message wanting to hear from me and I could not get myself to call her back. Not only have I not lost the weight she made such a huge deal about but every time I thought about the incident I felt like curling up in a ball. It hurt a lot mostly because she was a friend I trusted, and for me, trust is not to be taken lightly. just could not get past that I cooked a homemade meal for her, invited her into my home and in my heart and she chooses to focus on what? weight!! So I am not having her over for dinner, I am not sadistic, nope, I learned from my mistake. Yet, what I am not able to do for me and my heart is forgive and I feel I need to get there. No matter how I think about it I go right back to the feelings of humiliation and the pain of that moment. This is why someone telling you they like/love you is never enough, NOT even close....RESPECT and paying close attention to your loved one's true needs is more important than just spouting out professions of love. Believe me when I say I really want to move past this. I thought time would heal my soreness but the more time that passes the more I think walking away is the only solution. 
              Perhaps my answer lies in how my husband and I deal with forgiveness. I am with my husband now for 18 years. There has not been one week in the time we've been together in which we have not had at least one argument but we always resolve it within 2-3 hours at most, and most importantly, we truly move past it, both of us. The minute we make up I could hardly tell you what we argued about. One of the key here has been that both of us are super quick to tell the other when the other has wronged. Me, being Latina cannot and will not sit on any grudge for more than a second, I need to tell you IMMEDIATELY..... If I am mad at you you will know it cause I will be sure to tell you about it the minute it happens. Now, If I call you, if I talk to you and share any part of my life with you whatsoever know that I love and trust you deeply or you would not get a second of my time. Equally, my husband who loves to live a peaceful existence will quickly tell me what's bugging him and give me a chance to fix it. The other part of the way we argue that really works is that each of us fully respects and allows the other to have whatever feelings they bring to the table. We don't get mad at each other for bringing up a grievance or having a gripe; we accept that a gripe exists and now it must be addressed. When you respect the other you afford them the right to have a gripe, even though it might be tough to experience the force of the anger coming our way. Oh, I have had my share of those relationships where you bring up a complaint and the person turns it around on you and is upset that you've opened your mouth, that, my friends,  is a recipe for a dying relationship. So there you have it! two tips for forgiveness in a marriage, or any relationship really. To review, to bring peace back to any relationship, the hurt party should bring it up and second, one needs to feel listened to when bringing up grievances for any relationship to work. 

          So, seems like I answered my own question here. To bring closure to that issue with my friend who fat-shamed me, and if I want to give her a chance to stay in my life and feel peace I need to begin by letting her in how how her comment made me feel. How she reacts is not as important really, what matters is that I move that pain off my body, off my heart and say my peace. 

         I will report back what happens. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

What's your story?

             We all do it at some point in our lives, or maybe not. On second thought, some don't, ever! I'm talking about rebuilding ourselves, taking ourselves apart from the way our parents built us, from our pasts and rebuilding ourselves the way our true souls dictate.  Absolute honesty is required for such an endeavor. You see, once you stop telling your story, you notice how most people exist, breathe, depend on their story to feel right. When I say 'stop telling a story' I mean any story we tell ourselves about ourselves to neatly iron away the why's and the hows. Believe it or not we all spend an enormous amount of time on our stories, we neatly, tuck away and package and re-packege the why's so that everything looks right to the observer, so even the embarrassing parts of our story do not embarrass us or make us look a certain undesirable way. The funny part is that people who really love us for the people we are love us despite of our stories. The reason why the narrative about our stories matter is that depending on how we tell it, it defines our every one of our actions. 
         Now back to rebuilding ourselves. Rebuilding ourselves is nothing more than the retelling of our stories without blame, without a second third or fourth character, and without the ego. Let me use a situation to explain this better. My daughter had a very tight-knit plan for her summer, she drew out an intricate schedule and was determined to account for every hour, etc. I was way too busy finishing up school that week so I did not really pay attention to the intensity of this schedule. Day one of summer vacation came and she failed to get up at 5am as she had planned and not only does she cry about this for half an hour but she also blames me for not getting up and going with her at the time she had determined. Immediately, I had to set her straight. I explained that her plan for her improvement cannot ever include anyone else. Yes, you can get assistance, but you cannot depend all the time on an external entity for your workouts. Retell the story of your exercise routine without the dependence on another to walk you through the process and you will have a lot more success overall. 
                 One technique I have used for helping me retell my story right has been not using mirrors. I know, sounds crazy, right?. But let me explain. As women we have all grown up with the idea of how we are seen, how we are perceived. Adults in our lives surely were no help here. I think the last time I felt truly free of this was at age 7. I was running around topless playing with the boys. It ended that day because my grandma, without meaning to, made me feel self-conscious of what others may think. To most women, mirrors exist to remind us about how we look to others. In avoiding them, and not obsessively, one gets to start taking seat again, inside oneself. I want the way I move, walk, sit, talk to represent the person I am inside, no filters, no softening, no cute-fying, none of those extra "softeners" we females tend to add on to the ways we act so that others may like us more. In avoiding the messages I get from the outer world I hope to better connect with me, the imperfect, unrehearsed and genuine me. 
               So now that I feel I have slowly rebuilt myself, who is this imperfect, unrehearsed and genuine Miriam? Here you go. I tried my best to represent myself in one paragraph. I am proudly self-dependent. You will rarely hear me complaining and whining, and if you do, not for long. I have a knack for spotting assholes a mile away, yet, I still strongly believe most humans to be amazing and inspiring; everybody you meet has an awe-inspiring story, just like me. I love, love, love a good challenge and I play to win. I find jealously to be one of the most vile characteristics and work hard to never go there. I am drawn to stories of human will and actively seek them out weekly to keep me inspired.  My imagination is my highest form of entertainment; I am absolutely NEVER bored, ever.  I love being by myself and with people equally. I trust 100% in people's ability to fix themselves. Yes, of course, we can all support each other, but ultimately, one has got to want something enough to make a change, key words here being, "want" and "one".  Life is too short for drama, small talk, gossip, stupid pleasantries and long-drawn-out grudges. I am quick to argue but also quick to forgive and genuinely apologize when I've wronged. 
           So there, that is me, in a paragraph... I have built this me on my own, through lots of trials and tribulations. You begin by questioning your upbringing, questioning your default story and making sure it's all genuine to all parts of you. Your story should allow you to exhale, loosen up, relax and generally be happy, at best, content. I still have tons of work to do, but if you feel less resistance, less stress, less drama in your life, that should be a sign that your new path is working for you. My final aim is carrying a story of no story. Shedding all my identifiers and my baggage daily and simply being me, clear and weightless in every interaction, every decision. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

My 11 year old inspiration

        My daughter came up to my this morning and wanted to show me how strong she has become. She has a daily routine that includes doing varied forms of physical exercises from home, one of them being push-ups. She folder her arms and made a tight fist to make her muscles stand out and made me feel her upper arm and yes, in fact, she was pretty pumped.....for an 11 year old. The look of triumph on her face as she watched my expression was one I deeply relished, as her mom and as a woman. Here is a young girl who not only feels at home in her body but likes it, feels strong in it, takes pride in it! I don't think I, at age 11, 21 or even 31 ever felt strong in my own body, certainly not pride and certainly not "at home" in it. I can't help to feel that I have done something right parenting this kid. 
        Two nights ago she made a plan to bike around the lake the next morning. She had been talking about about her "summer program" for weeks now and part of this program is daily physical exercise of some kind. She, being still a kid, needed someone (ME, or course) to go with her. So she drags me out of bed, barely after sunrise, to accompany her around the local lake here. Luckily, my marathon training began that very same day, so hey, nothing like a nagging pre-teen to get you out of bed and on the trails before you can say no. I chugged along as she wizzed past me on her bike, back and forth, back and forth around the 4-mile route we decided on the night before. Today I am due for 5 miles run and again, she is going to ride alongside me, back and forth, back and forth. One thing I never planned for when having kids is having them be my motivation for working out...but, I am open to this.... life is full of surprises!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

My run...

       You've gotta find the beauty in every run. You might start out with one goal and the world throws a curve ball...but if you pay attention this curve ball might be a gift. I am beginning to think that all of life's curve balls are gifts.  

      A huge part of my spiritual practice has been practicing allow. Allowing things to unfold as they will, allowing people who don't act the way I think they should to act to act as they please. Allowing people to show me their love their way and not pout or manipulate to force them to show me love my way. I practice it so much so that now I find myself simply fading in the background in most social situations. I have found that most socializing is 80% trying to get others to listen to our ideas, to get others to follow your way, convincing, cajoling.....and since I don't prescribe in those tactics, by default, I get to be on the listening end of most social interactions.

      In the book Shabhalah, The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chöngyam Trungpa Rinpoche, he teaches about basic goodness and how everyone should rest in the fact that they have basic goodness in them and therefore there is no need to run around with so much song and dance trying to get everyone to love us, or approve of us, or validate us. The knowledge that we, and we alone, are enough without all the extras makes us relax and become less frantic, less needy, less intense. 

    Life has been throwing me lots of curve balls lately, and yes, I feel a bit rattled, but not shaken to the core. I am slightly tense but know I can take on the challenges ahead just fine. So no, nothing ever goes according to plans, and no, no one ever behaves as you'd like them to in your head, and that is totally okay. Not my job to change the world out there, but it is my job to change me in reaction to the world. It's a subtle difference but upon closer inspection, it's actually a monumental one. I have the choice all along, the choice to engage or not engage anything that comes my way. As Byron Katie says in her book, Love What Is, she claims that "defensiveness is the first act of war." Defensiveness is therefore a choice.  In being empowered to engage or not engage, in knowing we have a choice, we can then purposely choose a path that will best suit our heart. I choose love, I choose peace, I choose non-ego responses to all stressful situations. War can take place out there but I am not letting any negativity in the gate to my heart. 

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Never give up

                "Never give up". Those are the words I turn to quite often. It use to happen a lot, I call them the down-under days. Days where everything tat happens that day becomes part of that negative narrative that only helps to drag one down, nothing feels right.  Nowadays, they happen less and less often, but they still come and when they do I am more and more ready for them with strategies I have developed over time. I have suffered from what I call sadness and what the general society calls depression for my entire adult life. No, I have never been diagnosed but I know enough to recognize the symptoms and although it's not a severe issue, it's an issue I've had to address over the years. Over time, I've had to come up with many ways to help myself come back up when I'm down, all of them are strategies I personally use on me and don't require anyone else's help to make it back up. Because these sort of days come always unannounced, I can't possibly rely on someone else to come pull me out of these ruts, most people in my life hardly know they are there. One aspect that has helped me has been knowing that I am not alone in this issue of mine. As private as this experience is for me and for everyone else who deals with it, EVERYONE I meet have these down-under days, everyone I know carries some form of sadness in them of which they also learn to harness, or not. These people, they too feel as hopeless and as stuck as I do when they come. 
           Lucky for me, running has had a restorative affect on my life, on my outlook, on my soul. Getting some miles under my feet refils me, reassures me and completely eradicates all the ugly and bad that tends to mount daily. All that mental chatter that tends to weave those negative narratives just wiped clean. Running has been not only restorative, but also strengthening. One thing about running though is that the feeling of strength and power I get from it only lasts about a day, two at most. Three days, at the end of the school year, where there are events all evenings and no time can even be carved to work out surely allows all the negative feelings to surface. Yesterday, after three days of no running I finally get my power back at the gym. The gym is not at all one of my favorite places to run, at any run there may or may not be sweaty people besides me who may or may not smell of either perfume or sweat, or both....not at all fun!  But to walk out of there with 5 miles under my feet is a win for that in two days, I will need to battle once again.