Just a short one….after all size ain’t everything

Good Morning Friends,

It is almost time to shower and dress for day three at my Gold Canyon patient’s house so this entry will be brief. I an sad to report that my training is still in a semi stasis mode. I have not been swimming since my class on Thursday. Saturday night was chock full of thunderstorms.   I was all set up to go straight from work on Friday when suddenly another dog happened to me.

I am a small (not tiny) to medium size dog lover, think English Springer Spaniels and of course Lhasa Apso’s. Still I adopted Cozi, a ginormous Golden retriever who clearly has a canine sidekick personality, about 3 months ago. He had lived the first five years of his life with a yellow lab named Yeager who had already found a different home when I kept Cozi from Doggy Doom. Cozi was clearly depressed when I first brought him home and had just begun to really bond with my old Lhasa, Noien ,when her CHF suddenly got much worse. Her activity dropped to very little and then she passed away a week ago Tuesday.

Cozi’s bruised heart got battered a little more. He had just begun to show signs of getting his mojo back during walks this week but the last six months have clearly been one heart wrenching loss after another for this Golden and he is mostly heart, as all who have met him can clearly see, and I wondered what it would take to make his a whole one again. which leads to why this week I seem to be making more excuses than swim practices.

Friday while I was at work, Yeager’s adoptive family decided that their home wasn’t a good fit after all and Yeager, the dog Cozi grew up with, was headed to the pound.  The family I work for is at 4 dogs themselves (legal limit without special licensing) and could not keep him. I believe everyone and everything deserves my compassion and this means action on my part, not just pretty words.  So, I brought him home with me Friday with the stated intent of trying to find another owner.  Even as I packed his accouterments into my vehicle, my logical brain was screaming that I just don’t have the resources to help yet one more thing, listing the “needs” I currently can’t afford, and laying on the guilt about not making it to the pool to swim. My heart has always been louder than my head.

That initial plan went right out the window when Yeager came through the front door. Two 120+ pound dpgs dropped to the floor touching noses and licking each others faces and talking in the excited whiny voice they save for very emotional moments. This went on for about 3 to 4 minutes before they finally bounded up and started the usual butt sniffing bouncy dog greetings, which then adjourned to the back yard for that boy bonding rough housing that is an inter-species trait.

Watching the two dogs reunited made me tear up they were so expressive in the joy of seeing each other and the pain the separation had caused them. It is clear that these two canine compadres are soulmates. As of this moment,  I cannot conceive of separating these two again, and one of the cool things about compassion is when something is so clearly right, the way is made.

So that is why I haven’t been swimming yet.  The Lab would have been in my car for the hour I trained which is VERY unacceptable at the best of times but deadly in AZ in July. He is also currently affecting my run training as well just for good measure.

The Golden Retriever, Cozi, is SOFT like me and easy to run with, but the new kid, the Yellow Lab Yeager, is energetic and needs leash training BADLY so my 5k in the morning has been reduced to a mile run with the Golden and 15 minutes of walks and stops as the yellow lab learns what a leash is.

Plan to do C25K training starting August 14th as day one, by then both dogs should be OK on the leash and can get their exercise (alternately, not at same time) with me. Minimum pool practices I allow myself are three a week plus class and will get those in somehow, just not sure how yet.

As to the bike…..one piece of the whale at a time…

Namaste all and Happy Birthday to my son Wil who lives the farthest away but is always close in my thoughts and heart!

And Yup, he spelled it that way before Wheaton…LOL

My week begins….

0400 I am up and stretching, then thirty minutes of meditation followed by a good walk/run with Cozi again. Figured out it was my satellite connection messing with my distance and speed on the Edomondo so will get a better sense of where I actually am on time and distance tomorrow morning when Cozi and I go jog.

0500Today I had more stamina than my golden. He is a SOFT (slow, old, fat triathlete)  canine just like his Mom, although he is even less coordinated on a bicycle than I am. He is currently laying sprawled on his back panting and grinning at me. Like most attractive blonds of his ilk he know that if he plays cute long enough,  he will get what he wants, in his case what he really wants is a belly rub.

0545 Had an 8oz glass of Dynamo Juice with my multivitamin and a lovely cup of hot coffee. French press is my current favorite method. When it gets cool again I will be all over the cowboy coffee again and on days of leisure it is all about the esspresso machine. I am out of protein powder at the moment so I guess its instant oatmeal this morning. Have I mentioned I actually LOVE oatmeal, Teff porridge is real good too.* Note to self, buy more teff.

I am currently balancing my checkbook which wobbles like me on a bike, but I am grateful to have a roof over my head (money set aside for rent), electricity to cook, cool and clean with (more money set aside for M-power), internet access (Ah, Cox –you are so aptly named), someone to carry away the trash (Allied payment cleared), indoor plumbing (Johnson Utilities) and my wonderful sons (Amazon charge cleared, must check to see if it has arrived yet) and that I had the chance to study and go to college (student loans payed)……grateful also for food and a car that runs and will do both sparingly this week.

0615 Roommate up and peeking out of the room to see if I have left yet. Nope, nut it is time to get going and make my lunch and iron my uniform. I leave the house at 7 because my patient’s house is a ways away from mine.

Before I go I need to celebrate a bit that I swam 300 meters yesterday – mind you in 25 meter lengths, with pauses between but all of it face in water and working on stroke and form. Next challenge is to make it one full lap with just a turn and no pause. Also need to work on breathing to my left as well as my right.

Continuing to train throughout the next fifteen days will be a challenge. My life is filled to the brim with work as I prepare to take a week off for my birthday. I look forward to seeing how I mange it all.

Have a lovely day and surprise yourself today. Do something unexpected and kind, smile at everyone, and pet a puppy or two, maybe even rub a belly.

Namaste.

Thursday morning, 5 AM…

Okay, for the record I was singing that to the Beatles “Wednesday Morning”. Since the only way to get back into the swing of things is, well, to actually get swinging, I was up at 4:30 and doing my 30 minute walk/run.

Every place I have lived has a month or two of weather that encourages a sedentary lifestyle. In Arizona it is July and early August.  At 5AM today it is over 85 degrees and the humidity is 30%.  30% humidity was nothing when I lived by the ocean but it is extremely high after living a decade in the desert.  I will admit when I opened my eyes to the warm sweaty dawn,  I actually reset my alarm clock and closed my eyes. I absolutely did not want to do my stretches or take the dog for a run. I wanted to lay like the steamed vegetable I was.

Then my mantras automatically started running like audio news loops in my head:

“There are two kinds of people, those who make their dreams come true and those who make excuses”

“Never trade what you want most for what you want right now.”

What I want most is to complete this Sprint Tri in October. So I got out of bed, pulled on my Rainbow CareBear shirt and saggy shorts, grabbed the top pair of socks from the door and laced on my running shoes. Cozi’s tail started wagging the second I reached for the socks.Next was getting the leash on my ecstatic Golden and we were out the door.

I pulled my Smart Phone out of my pocket and brought up my sports program and hit “start” but my Endomondo program wasn’t registering any movement at all. Temptation was to fiddle away part of my half hour trying to make it work, instead  I just stuck the phone in my pocket to keep track of time and took off walking/running. It ends up that somehow I had switched the activity to sailing so that might be why the android program was not tracking speed or distance, but at home I have an actual route so I can measure my progress against my previous run.

It is funny for me to talk to other Triathlon participants when I meet them on-line or in person because they always tell me their strongest and weakest portion of the event and ask mine. I smile and say “I am pretty equal in all the sections although least experienced on the bike.” I tell you this about my running because it is equally as accomplished as my swimming where I am gradually increasing accumulated lengths(25 meters) to the required sprint length of 200 meters but still unable to do a full 50 meters (lap) without a minute break between laps. Biking is improving on a stationary bike but still haven’t actually a real one, and my running is of commensurate ability, I pretty much suck.LOL

However, when I started at the beginning of June, I could not make a full length in the pool with a kickboard without a break, walking 5k required two rests and my thirty minutes on the stationary bike yielded (at flat resistance 2) 3.7 miles, and Tuesday I did 6 miles of interval resistance, walk 5k (run small blips), and swim (in pieces) 250 meters with face down and (still poor form) freestyle.

It is about progress and showing up even on the days when I want to believe the voice in my head that says this is all nonsense, and I am pushing myself too hard, and I can’t do it anyway, and it’s too hot, and I can always start again tomorrow. The problem is that their are never any shortages of excuses, but todays and nows are numbered. So my little blog is done today and I drank my soy fruit smoothie. Time to pack my stuff up and head off to the pool for swim time with Phil.

Sadly today my DIL has a really early court hearing with a client and so won’t be joining us. Have really missed her these last two weeks and look forward to swimming with her again soon. Hopefully be seeing on or the other of my sons back in the practice pool with us this coming week as well.

Namaste my friends, and whatever you are doing today, give it your best, which is always a little more than we think we have to give.

 

 

 

Welcome to my new roost and rookery…

Welcome readers. I hope you have followed me from my LiveJournal nest to join this new roost. Roosts and rookeries  are the communities in which Corvus corvidae gather once the actual breeding and brooding of the eggs is completed for the season. Crows are self-aware, socially benevolent scavengers who find beauty and sustenance in homo-sapien’s  trash and actively build community.

Those are the goals of this website, to actively build a community of fellows where we encourage self-awareness, social benevolence, beauty in the unexpected, sustenance in what we once would have considered the “garbage” of our lives. I am finally using Crowfae.com as my primary blog site even though it means a little more stretching again and I kinda feel drawn tight already. My inability to blog all week due to problems with my LiveJournal (or more likely all LiveJournal accounts) was the impetus to move here to this more community friendly location now the eggs have hatched and the pinfeathers are dry and growing, but it is a move I have wished to make since my son first gifted me with it.

I promise a real blog in the next 48 hours with updates (however embarrassing) on my last week of training, this months meeting of my literary ladies circle and how this first first week without my constant canine companion (may she rest in peace) has been. Until then treat yourself and others with kindness and patience and pass out a few unexpected smiles.

Namaste.

Slow, Old, Fat Triathlete Goes back to Training…return of the boring BLOG

So it’s 0545 and I have meditated and done my stretches. Had a protein fruit smoothie for my 1st breakfast and I am leaving momentarily to do my swim practice. Potentially meeting my son Dallon and maybe being joined by DIL. I will be updating my levels of exercise and intake today as I move back on track for my October event.

I barely finished the 4-3-2-1 drill from before my hiatus. My muscles and my cardiovascular system have lost ground from the time off and I was getting leg cramps  and chest muscle pain. I managed four non-consecutive lengths freestyle, no laps without breaks. I am kind of dreading class tomorrow but showing up is half the battle.

It is almost noon and I have some housecleaning and  laundry on the docket for today. I am making Ratatouille from “eat vegan on $4 a day” by Ellen Jaffe Jones for dinner tonight and continuing the perfecting of organic Blueberry Muffins, my base recipe was Laurel’s Kitchen but I am wheat sensitive and so since its amazing texture is achieved through wheat germ….well I am tweeking it to be as awesome but less inflammatory to my gut and joints.

Anyway the real story for me this week involves three athletic and beautiful young women who train at the same pool I do and how the dramas in our heads are so NOT reality, and how I am learning to acknowledge and face my fear.

As I may have mentioned a couple times before, I am not athletic. I really am slow (I will actually time my 5K sometime this week and verify this for you), I am what the medical community calls “obese” although I prefer fluffy at 5’5″ and 222.2 lbs as of this morning, but I was near 250lbs when I started. I am also over 50 years old. I am just saying all this because for  many years I though that completing a triathlon really looked like a rush, but was not trying it , because I believed I couldn’t succeed and would look stupid even trying.

Part of my fear of athletic attempts is rooted in a lifetime of being picked last in school PE (until I got too “cool” to care about “those stupid Jocks” and almost failed HS because of skipping Gym. I had to take summer school PE my Junior year) I was the loner, the outsider; think Ally Sheedy in Breakfast Club without the family money. I had to be somewhat athletic to succeed in my military career. However, I joined the military when there were much fewer women. I was the first female in a brain dependent field and so as long as I wasn’t last in Physical Training, my less than mediocre performance was attributed to my gender and pretty much ignored.

A couple weeks into this new goal of completing a Triathlon, I had to face my fear of being ridiculed when some slightly intoxicated post-adolescent males had nothing better to do on a Friday night than taunt the overweight old lady trying to swim laps at the community pool. Still, their butt size focused humor was not a major challenge because there was nothing about them I admired.  I had no script in my head that said I was less than them, in fact if anything I shielded myself from the brunt of their cruelty feeling superior. The emotional embarrassment generated a few ego-centric tears in my car when I was done with that practice from the rather mean things they said but there was never any danger of me quitting my goal.

The first real threat to sticking with this goal came when two more ladies joined our class, both with prior swim experience. Dawn is able to swim circles around me and they were out swimming her. I reminded  myself that there would be hundreds of people swimming  A LOT better than me at the event I plan to enter in October. I chose to view these new training comrades as a chance to grow into not comparing myself to others when I swam while I just focus on doing my best. At least I still had the morning swims where the pool was mostly empty and I could just focus on my own improvement with no one to glaringly reflect my incompetence. My goal was still a go!

Then “THEY” showed up. Three times a week, women who looked like they had stepped right out of a sports magazine were swimming laps next to me in near perfect form. It was obvious they were just trying to improve their lap times, and that they were friends. They chatted among themselves, laughing, working hard but having a good time together. I was intimidated and jealous, or at least that part of me I call EEV (EvilEgoVoice) was. The script in my head started up at full speed….you know the script, or maybe you don’t, but I know it too well. This the script where someone else is laughing at you behind your back or someone thinks they are better than you, and somewhere in there is usually the statement “It’snot fair”, and often also the statement “I can’t do this because compared  to so and so I am just too something”. All last week I wrote those kind of dramas in my head. My morning practices were just hour long comparisons of my inadequate self to these ladies youth, strength and skill. I really wanted to just quit swimming and crawl back to my comfort zone.

In retrospect I can see that I was more susceptible to EEV because of the helplessness I felt in my dogs illness.  Loss of someone I love always shakes my comfort zone, and worse yet was not being able to control all her symptoms or explain to her what was happening. Today I am in that functional shocked relief state that comes after the death of someone you love who was suffering, and now thankfully is not.  I am not saying I am thinking any clearer, but apparently  EEV is less fed by this grief phase as I don’t feel her centripetal twirl .
Anyway, last week as I wrote and rewrote the script in my head, I was building a nice resentment towards these “Jockettes”. Thankfully, this past Monday,  I finally decided that I would actually talk to these women. It is much harder to resent, judge, etc people once I actually know them. So I introduced myself and said what I was training for, how long I had been doing it and where I had started. I asked them about themselves.
Guess what, They Are Awesome. The three women are training for their first Triathlon in August. The script had totally been only the fear and inadequacies in my own head. Today these three slim, fast Triathletes are my inspiration instead of the weapon with which I beat myself up. It was that simple, I faced my fear of them rejecting or laughing at me, took action by saying hello and the script in my head evaporated. It is inspiring to me to not only observe their form and speed but also to hear out of their mouths the same fears and desires to “just finish without looking like they are drowning”. Now I get to smile when I arrive and see them in the pool, not to mention their team leader printed off an amazing practice schedule for improving tri style swimming and brought it to me this morning.
I realize it could have gone differently when I spoke to them, but generally it doesn’t, especially when I remember it really is never truly about me, not the complements or the insults. The resentment I was building towards them had nothing to do with the reality of their kind and ebullient personalities. Potentially I could have been rude to them or standoffish when it was all my own fear and personal pain manifesting drama.  So that is my best lesson I take away from training this week. Face my fears and remember, it’s not about me!
I am pretty excited to meet new friends trying the same sport I am trying, equally excited to say it looks like Dawn and I have inspired my son Dallon to join in the “Tri” funfest as well.  As a final note I am a little surprised to see how much strength and endurance I have lost from taking about a ten day break from daily training. Since Noien’s first crisis in the night my eating and exercise have been spotty at best, so time to get back on track. Off to do my housework then hit the Gym for my 5K and stationary bike workout…..eating an apple (instead of chips) as I type, have had two protein shakes and coffee so time to make a salad, hope to drop below 220 this week and consistently complete 8 lengths (25 feet) each practice and have at least two of those be a consecutive lap.
Namaste friends and thanks for reading.

Ignore the little man behind the curtain

      Most of my life I lived like the wizard in the Wizard of Oz, showing the public the awesome author construct, survivor, and single mom philanthropist, while at home behind the curtain I cried, stormed and generally  felt like a flim flam man. I spent many years afraid that if you really knew me, you wouldn’t like me. Not so much anymore. Now I know that what you think of me really isn’t any of my business, I probably like you, and if not then I appreciate your being in my life as a lesson. 

     The one real weakness I still have is knowing how to behave when my ass is really falling off.  My new coping technique, while more honest than my Wizard facade, may still need some fine tuning. My coping style goes like this. Crisis hits. I joke. I respond. I keep going. Second crisis hits "I’m fine." I wax philosophical. The full ramifications of first crisis begin to settle in as third crisis hits. People offer support which I push away. "No really, I am doing Ok. I’m handling this, doing OK"…..a small inconvenience or expectation is placed on me…long pregnant pause..I shout at whomever is closest ..I’m really not doing OK!I "

     The people in my triathlon training group know this now cause I had a melt  down at swim practice this week, very akin to an adolescent temper tantrum. The drill Phil gave us seemed twice as impossible as the previous homework I still had not completely mastered. I yelled at him. "This stupid training is just like life, just when you think you might be able to handle it after all, it heaps on twice as much more." My grammar is not impeccable when I am acting thirteen. I also learned that crying does not improve swimming technique and that I really do want to do this triathlon; I just have no idea how I am going to manage it now financially, physically or anything else. I not only want to do it, I still believe I can do it. This is just the chapter in my life story where the conflict and the tension builds.

     
     Not posting much this morning because I need to go get ready for work, but also because my struggle with grief this week makes it hard to not just give up on all my struggles, and self-pity never needs a forum. Why I am sad is the impending loss of my best friend, my dog.

     Noien, like all long time canine companions, has been the very model of selfless support through a very tough decade and a quarter. Now it is her turn to accept my selflessness. Only I am helpless to make it comfortable and unfrightening to her, with her current medical problems, except by ending her life. Each time I come to peace with that decision, she rallies again and I unmake the decision, partly in fact because of a medication that alleviates symptoms but whose long term use will have its own side effects. The emotional burden of both having run out of money, options and time with Noien is big and it mimics too well other losses and decisions I have made in my life. My knees buckle at each stride these days. Luckily, my job is one where I have practiced leaving myself and my burdens at the door. Although it is harder this week, my work is a break from a reality I am not handling well.
     
   My plate is full and the grease is smoking hot. In addition to spending my recent extra earnings (that I meant as bike and gym and bill money) on big vet bills that produced the unwanted diagnosis, and recent health setbacks in the ongoing battle reconfiguring a body that is old, slow and fat, I have a few new fish in the kettle.

 
    Thanks to internet and the universe, people are coming back into my life from out of my darkest times, including my adolescents.  Intertwined with the amazingly beautiful memories that are surfacing involving these people and places are all the dark threads and knots of secrets, shame and fear that I have avoided for 40 years. I asked the universe to help me resolve my debts this year; karmic-ally. emotionally and financially so that I can overcome my ego and truly achieve a heart filled with "Ahimsa" instead of fear, and I am getting my wish!
 
      Like the author James Owen says, "Pain is only weakness  leaving your body", and I have a lot of weaknesses to overcome. I struggle with attachment, impermanence and  I guess, acceptance and forgiveness. The loss of  Nam, and now my dog in the same year, are really kicking me through the first two. The past will be my teacher for the second two. The universe is giving me both what I need and what I asked for but it is definitely painful right now. My psyche is kind of like my glutes and what ever those little back and leg muscles are that feel like they have broken glass in them at my Backfit massage. (OMG, Now I have John Cougar-Mellencamp in my head…hurts so good…da da dum da..)
 
    Anyway, to massage my spirit the way Jackie and Dr Vogel fix my muscles and skeleton I have "Drawing Out the Dragons" on my android (in an email cuz I can’t figure out how to get it in my Kindle ap, LOL…) that I have been reading repeatedly when I am out and about. In my bathroom reading I just finished Ghandi’s "Experiments in Truth" and I am about to start Mandella’s "Long Walk to Freedom"> My kitchen book I am starting Charles Williams and just finished Macombers"20 Wishes". All the books have the same message, they just tell it different. 
 
    It is the same message I have been living and telling since I gave writing presentations to would be authors and seminars for volunteers-in-training in the late 1980’s and 1990’s.  Some of the books have been with me since childhood, others are recent additions but they can all be boiled down to the afterword page in James Owen’s Drawing Out the Dragons,  which begins with my favorite quote "If you really want to do something, no one can stop you;  but if you really don’t want to do something, no one can help you."
 
  By the way, there is the kickstarter program to get the e-book of "Drawing Out the Dragons" into print. It is am amazing book that will join my Ghandi, Tolle, Emerson, Armstrong, Frankl and Lewis on the read and re-read shelf so if you can help make the print version happen, I thank you, better yet I am pretty sure the universe thanks you too, and the pledge swag is pretty cool too! You will probably need to cut and paste the link. 

 http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1401678214/james-a-owen-the-drawing-out-the-dragons-project}

   
Anyway my alarm has sounded. Must dress for work. I will go practice tonight as my choices and responses are truly all I can control at this time, and choosing to press forward with the Triathlon is important on a multitude of levels. 
 
Addendum: I didn’t go practice tonight. Noein’s increased dose of medicine reaped miraculous results in this now, so I stayed home and tossed a squeaky ball and fed her bits of scrambled tofu, and she and Cozi and I pretended like everything is normal. Love and loyalty are always my highest  priority. It has been two weeks since she was able to play at all, it was awesome. I was a hospice nurse, so I am well aware of the miracle of the rally, its potential implication, and took it for all it was  worth. She is sleeping now and breathing very shallow. My practice will be there tomorrow night and my dear blog readers please expect some boring practice schedules and what I ate today blogs as I keep myself moving forward through the undercurrents of grief. 

But Mom, everybody is doing it….

          Three recent posts from internet friends have been playing themselves out over and over again in my psyche, or at least the questions they raised in my head have been swirling intriguingly. One post was about the Australian census and concerned identifying one’s faith practice, I am not Australian but I love putting myself in another’s shoes so I tried to pin down what I would do . The second was a George Carlin video that’s overwhelming message was hopelessness; life in America sucks and he doesn’t believe that we as American’s have choices and only the ignorant believe it is going to get better and there is nothing anyone can do about it. The third asked the question, "What is the most important lesson you have learned and now you know it, what do you wish you had done different?" These seemingly disparate issues are intricately woven together in my head under the heading, "One size does not fit all."

     Does anyone else remember the inexpensive one-size-fits-all pantyhose of the days when wearing pantyhose daily was an academic and professional feminine requirement? I bought them because they were the cheapest and most readily available. There were others I could buy at the upscale department stores that didn’t cause chafing between my thighs when I stood to walk and the crotch suddenly dropped to just above my hemline. The silky department store ones also didn’t make painful seam marks on my toes, and had fewer unusual color gradations, but I chose the cheap, easy ones. Besides, everyone else wore the same kind as me and no one else was complaining so I just assumed it was me. It wasn’t.  In fact the most important lesson I have learned in life is that  anything "one size" fits no one. One size garments can accommodate a large number of figures and body compositions but that is not the same as "fitting".

 
     This is true, as well, about diets, lifestyles, religions, books, etc. I am comfortably a vegetarian. I do not need to convince anyone else to follow my eating patterns. I have lots of good reasons I decided to choose this lifestyle, some are personal health issues (my body does not process dairy or meat well), some are spiritual concepts (Ahimsa), some political (carbon footprint of meat, meat productions contribution to third world famine). I do not expect other people to even understand my choice and I do my best to not foist my beliefs on others while still taking care of myself. (A balance I am still learning how to maintain, as evidenced by previous posts, LOL.) 
 
     I am less comfortably public and yet more balanced in my spiritual journey. I once had a bumper sticker that said it all for me. "Buddha wasn’t a Buddhist, and Jesus wasn’t a Christian". I strive to have integrity, be ego free, and practice compassion.  I am as comfortable in a grove of trees as I am in a Catholic Mass, Islamic gathering or Mormon chapel. I realize that there might be some in that Druidic circle, mass or chapel service who would be less comfortable with me, since I do not share their belief in competitive, ego-centric deity. My current practice would look on the surface to be a mixture of New Age Nature practice and Buddhism as I have a personal altar with the cardinal directions expressed with elements and a statue of Quan Yin on the water side and Buddha on the Fire side.  I embrace the teachings of both the Holy Bible and the Koran, however, in my reading of them I do not find that mankind is broken or hopeless, only that compassion is the greatest of spiritual laws. I embrace the Tao Te Ching and have it as a goal to memorize the stanzas. I also find reflected in the works of many New Age/Wiccan/Druid/Shamanic writers my own experience with the magic of the universe that is primarily addressed in the mystic and gnostic writers of the Judeo/Christian/Islam traditions. My many attempts at affiliation with religion have been like the one size fits all pantyhose, they provided support and ease of accessibility but they never really fit. Bottom line is I do not fit in any of the boxes, no matter how hard I squish my spirit and am only glad I don’t have to make the choice which one to check. That is the other part of this most important lesson I’ve learned is that since one size does not fit anybody, it really is about personal choice and personal responsibility.
 
     Which leads me back to the George Carlin video, I agree with the facts he highlights in his rant. Media, politics, education and economics are all being desperately manipulated by the few individuals (WEM’s) that are not content with having almost everything but need a little bit more. I don’t believe however that I am helpless or hopeless in the face of this. First of all believing I am hopeless to change anything does me no good and feeds into the broken system in place as I then try to fill the porous spiritual holes in my life with "more" power, success and things which once accumulated must be protected or lost which makes the holes bigger requiring more filler, etc. Hopelessness, anger and victim mentality are key factors in addictive and self-destructive behavior. Second, as Ghandi and Victor Frankl learned and taught in situations worse than any I have ever experienced(imprisoned in India and concentration camp in WWII respectively) and so clearly taught in their writings, I always have choice. I choose how I respond to what is placed before me. When I make good choices I feel better. The things that create happiness (not just fleeting pleasure) in me are expressing gratitude, showing compassion, and developing discipline.  
 
How do I know if something is a good choice for me. That part is easy. Do I find myself mentally creating reasons or defenses for the choice, especially if those defenses include placing the responsibility on someone else (If only she had, if only he had not, etc)? If my answer to this question is, yes, then I already know inside it is not a good choice that’s why I am defending it. A corollary to this question is am I trying to make everyone else do it with me? Again obvious evidence I don’t support my own choice and want to hide my guilt in the crowd. (This is my favorite self-sabotaging tactic for undisciplined eating, drinking or spending). Finally does this choice or behavior enhance or detract from the person I want to become. Which circles back to the part hope plays in my life; because I believe that I am created perfect, that all I need is available to me now, and that this moment is exactly what I need, I have a dream. And I have hope. 
 
 I also have as an allegory for my continued Pollyanna perspective a favorite "peeing in the ocean" story. Those close to me are probably real tired of this tory, so I will just paraphrase it. The bottom line is that as a child I tried to raise the level of the ocean by peeing in it. I even marked the pylons of the pier with a pencil and got other kids involved. I was always unsuccessful, and then someone pointed out my foolishness as the ocean was so very, very big. I felt stupid that I had tried. As an adult, and very pregnant, I accidentally peed in the ocean and had an epiphany, my goal all those years ago was off base. I never raised the level of the ocean but I had definitely warmed my little circle. This is my approach now to living including voting in elections, spending locally, eating vegetarian, speaking politely, not taking things personal, reading all sides of an issue (especially the opinions that differ from mine) letting other drivers into my lane, sharing my abundance and saying thank-you as often as possible. George Carlin is right, the problems facing society are ocean sized and my ability to contribute is puny, but today I don’t try to raise the level of the ocean, just warm my own circle.
 
So I might not check the same box as most of my friends in the religion section of a census because I would want to check them all; and although our conclusions are different, I definitely do agree with George Carlin’s data. The problems American society faces, and more importantly to me the world as a whole faces, are rooted in an unhealthy lust for "More" that I cannot change in anyone else but me. This is the most important lesson I have learned in life, one size does not fit all, in fact in trying to accommodate all, it fits nobody. So for my life to fit comfortably, I need to take responsibility for my own choices. 
 
Some days I may be indistinguishable from the crowd, and some days I may stand alone in the best choices for myself; but this choice in how I respond, this choice to be grateful, hopeful and happy can never be taken from me regardless the swirl of circumstances that surround me. 
 
I have made a plethora of mistakes in my life, mine and someone else’s share at least, and so spent a great deal of time thinking about the second part of that question, knowing this, what would I have done different? I am small and insignificant, even taking into account ripple effect. Also, my vision can only encompass a few pixels of the entire landscape of life and so I decided to rephrase the second portion of that question. I would not go back even if I could and huge mistakes not withstanding, I am not wishing I could change anything. Instead I ask myself today, is their any action from my past I need to make restitution for today? I choose to use my past, gaffs especially,  to make better choices in the future and to identify where through my choices I have bridges to mend, and consequences from which to grow. It may be trite but if I do what I did, I will get what I got, so if something in my now causes dissonance I need to try something new.
 
And that’s my blog today, and now I am going to go snuggle with my old canine lady a bit and work on defining my dreams, tomorrow is back to triathlon training, but today I am swimming in different waters.  Processing this transition with Noien makes me both sad and grateful, as I am sure all pet owners understand, grateful for the years together and sad to watch her health deteriorate, knowing it is my choice and responsibility to let her go.