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. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Forest Bathing 

        Waking up at 4:30am and going for a summer trail run before sunrise has its benefits. It's TOTALLY quiet, it smells delicious, and you get to see the sun rise from the many cool shapes of light they create against and through the trees.