What I am reading this week…and a couple things I can’t wait to read…

First I apologize for posting this a day late. No excuse, just an apology. As usual I am reading more than one book.

I am reading aloud a lifetime favorite, “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeline L’Engle. Certain authors are my “go to” authors for reading aloud to patients depending on the patient’s age and taste; L’Engle, E. B. White, Dumas, Alcott, Frost, Twain, Dickens, Whitman. The authors language and chapter structure must lend themselves to “voices” and serialized presentation, and be music when spoken. The list has been fairly stable although a few new authors have joined the list this decade like James Owen with “Here There Be Dragons”  whose reveal at the end of this book rivals some of Vonnegut’s (who, however much I love him and his place on so many other of my literary lists, is not on the read aloud list.)

I am also reading “Homesteading” edited by Abigail Gehring. This is both research for my post-apocalyptic novel in process and research for my own desire to walk more softly and compassionately through this world. So far enjoyable. And my vote for best lines ever in a “you too can get green” introduction, “Before  buying chicks or any other animal to raise, be honest with yourself about the time you have for caring for them….. Homesteading is different for every individual or family. Sometimes being genuine means letting go – at least temporarily – of grandiose schemes for acres of land, a home completely off the grid, and a barn full of animals…….” And I know animal rescuers everwhere are equally impressed with the sentiment. I personally am starting (yet again) with plants and planting.

Reading “The Teachings of Buddha”, a free book put out by the Society for Buddhist Understanding. Don’t recommend it or “un”recommend it.  My problems with this translation and compilation is that it is to other compilations of Buddha’s life and teachings what “The Living Bible” is to the “King James Version”. All the reasons I don’t thoroughly like it are the very reasons others might just recommend it.  The language is very prosaic and couched in terms people familiar with western theism will embrace and understand. Words like “sin” and “omniscience” are not words I associate with Buddhism. However I understand why the translators/compilers went there, so to speak, and as the core Dhammapada is there for me I will finish it, but then probably just pass it on via coffee shop shelf. If you are an avid theist unfamiliar with any of Buddhist teachings who is interested in learning more, I would actually recommend Karen Armstrong’s biography of Buddha over this text as introduction.

Finally, I am about to start re-reading a “potato chip” book (just finished re-reading “March” which although more a nutritious meal was every bit as devour-able, addictive-ly tasty and enjoyable to read) called “Fuzzy Nation” by John Scalzi. The paperback comes out next month. Buy it, or be real supportive and buy a hardback this month. The author is worth it, his books are very much like my favorite organic, olive oil fried potato chips. They are delicious bits of questionable nutrition, but heart healthier than the usual science fiction, and you can’t just read one.

Which leads me to my very “un” peaceful NEED, CRAVING and desire for Scalzi’s next book “Red Shirts” due to come out in June

and on that same note is my attachment to reading the next book in James Owen’s dragon series due out in August.

I want……*sigh*

 

Showed up, finished, took home a silver.

I woke up scared.

I rode to the event fighting fear that kept me on the edge of tears. My friends and family were there supporting me and telling me I could do it.

And then I was in the pool and they were counting down the time 3…2…1 go! And I kicked off and there was no more fear only breathing and swim strokes.

I did it.

I swam. I biked. I ran. Not fast, not well but better than before I started to train and I took fifth in my weight class (I am an Athena) and second in my age group. My daughter-in-law who trained with me, kicked my butt on times and got a bronze cuz there are fewer Slow Old Fat Triathletes than young thin ones like her. In my eyes she got double gold.

My swim time was pretty awesome for me. I did it in 8:36 (eight minutes, thirty-six seconds) much better than I have ever done in practice.  Next time will be better (and double the distance). As it was my first time all the people coming up behind me discombobulated me and I lost time letting the mob pass.

My eight miles on the bike was very slow, the first half of the four mile loop (2 miles) was a slight upgrade and I did the eight miles on my beach cruiser because I really want to take the mountain bike somewhere and get street tires and a check-up after its altercation with a car before putting it in a position of trust.  It was slow and hard going.  Coming around the first lap and knowing I was into the uphill again the excuse wheel began to spin, but there were my friends holding signs for me and cheering. I wasn’t about to let them or me down and just kept peddling.

My time was about what I expected. I predicted 85 to 90 minutes and completed it in 71 minutes 17 seconds. Again beating any practice times but really sloooooooow.

I used the beach cruiser partly cause of the needing to get the geared bike checked out, But also, and this was a big one, I am comfortable on it’s no gear and no power break turtle type solidness and fear was a HUGE part of what I was facing down in this whole triathlon. I have only been riding a bike, any bike, for a little over two months.  I need practice, practice, practice. I need to learn how to use gears and my hand breaks in a way that doesn’t throw me over the bike. I am glad that I took Bessie as there were times when the real competitors were woooshing by that Bessie and I’s sympatico natures kept me from succumbing to fear. The one time I did let fear take over the reins I had a small spill and spent a couple minutes walking my bike before I got back on and finished.

Coming into the transition area my left knee sharply announced it was done and I dismounted a good 100 or so feet before I was supposed to dismount.

My run was the thing most affected by my October falls and mishaps. Dawn was waiting for me as I came into the transition area and paced me the whole way (Mind you AFTER she had already completed the same thing at a dead run) My left knee was screaming four letter words at me by the time I finished biking and did not want to run, walk or really do anything that required it to flex or extend or bear weight. But Dawn was there right beside me  and quitting was not an option. I walked more than half of the run, so run time was 9:23. Still better than I predicted.

And guess what, I the Slow Old Fat Triathlete who in June of this year got breathless walking a mile, had never ridden a bycicle, and never taken a swimming lesson, then fell messing up her left knee Oct 3, got knocked down by her Golden retriever injuring her right knee on Oct 8 and THEN got hit on her bike by a car re- jacking her left knee again Oct 13, finished her race. (Yes, I am talking about myself in the third person.)

Better yet, I can’t wait for my next one.

So many thank-you’s to say: Rick, Dawn, and Phil Veatch who were all my trainers (Phil is the official trainer), Dallon as well, Jody and Steve, the staff at Backfit Chiropractic in Gilbert, Sara, Pat, Amie, Ken and Deena, the women in my training group, the nice lifeguard at the pool who got me the ice pack today, and others I know I am forgetting…I could not have done it without you.

..and also a special thank you to James Owen for the audiobooks that were the soundtrack for a lot of walking, running and stationary bike time the past few months.  You and my son Rick are the examples that motivate me to focus not on the obstacles I need to overcome but how I will accomplish my dreams.

Lots of love to all of you who have followed the first lap of this journey, and it ain’t over yet! 400 meter, 12 mile ride, 5 k is my next race and I plan to beat my times a lot on my way there.

So I am thinking a lot more training is in order.

But now its time to sleep.

P.S. If I can do it, anybody can!

Ice, Ice Baby!

June 1, 2011. I couldn’t run a block. I had never ridden a bicycle or had a swimming lesson. June 1st was day one of this journey I am on, my goal was to try something ego challenging, that required effort and discipline and it had to be something fun and  completely different.

Anything athletic was about as different as I could get from my bookish existence. Also, and not surprisingly,  I was and am a BIG girl. Big girls still got game, I call my style of game, ” SOFT” (Slow Old Fat Try-athlete).

This pre-amble is to put in perspective my yesterday.  I swam 100 meters; four lengths together without break. I was panting and gasping when I was done but I did it.  Then I swam another 200 meters in lengths of 25; when I was done swimming I biked about 5 miles, and walked 5K. I am also trimming down, weighed in yesterday at 217 lbs. Not that the point was to be thin, but every ten pounds I lose is ten pounds I don’t have to drag through the water or around the track.

This morning I ran 1 mile, walked 2 more. Tomorrow after work I will go bike and swim.

I am tired and sweaty a lot.

I am also currently icing my back daily and rolling, rolling, rolling my legs and butt. I have a healing blister between my cheeks, ache places that never ached before and a very funky tan line but still am sooooo excited by my progress and that I am still engaged in an activity I have been told (and for years even told myself) just wasn’t for me.

So what’s my goal, well my dream goal is an open water/trail run triath event in an exotic local, but since I am still an EXTREME novice, Athena novice at that, below is the website description of the first event that all this swimming, running and biking is about. I will be doing the MINI ADULT. Not a bad beginning length. I will be in the Athena category and have no idea how many will be in my age group. I am not as much interested in taking home a ribbon as I am in actually completing the race. My DIL is a bit more competitive and I hope to see her take first in her group.

If I continue to practice, practice, practice I know I can complete the lengths needed. Now I am all nervous about transitions and set up and what to wear and eat. Gonna reread the book by Jayne Williams and just keep swimming…

By the way, anyone who wants to come participate in the race or cheer me and Dawn on, let me know, I say for this kind of thing…the more the merrier!!!!

I know I haven’t finished it yet, but I am farther than I could ever have believed possible a year ago. I wouldn’t have come this far without Phil Veatch, my trainer from Inspire Fitness;  the massage and adjustments from Backfit Chiropractic (Anne, Dr. Vogel, and Jacquie);  bike riding lessons and poolside encouragement from my local sons Rick and Dallon and my DIL Dawn; the special contribution of Steve and Jody; and of course my friends Pat, Sara, Anne, Angela and Amie who keep encouraging, clothing and believing in me regardless of what crazy thing I try now. (Also a small thank-you to James Owen and Wil Wheaton, not that they will read this, but it is there amazing writing I listen to when running, stretching and walking. Like Oprah and Glinda the Good Witch these two men keep me motivated and believing that I have always had the power.)

 

Brief Description

Tri-Family Racing presents The City of Mesa Halloween Adult & Youth Sprint Triathlon & Duathlon. Everyone can get in on the fun; …we have Youth & Adult divisions as well as Relay Team competitions.

Event Refund Policy

No refunds provided!

Additional Information

MINI ADULT TRI: Adults: 200 yd. Swim, 8 mi Bike, 1/2 mi Run
MAXI ADULT TRI: 400 yd. swim, 12 mi Bike, 2 mi Run
YOUTH (TRI ONLY): 100 yd. Swim, 2.5 mi Bike; 1/2 mi Run
MAXI DU: Adults: 1/2 mi. Run, 12 mi. bike, 2 mi Run

WHERE: Fremont Pool, 1001 N Power Road, Mesa ,AZ 85205 (Northeast corner of East Adobe Street & North Power Road)

WHEN: Youth triathlon approx. 7 am Adult Triathlon & Duathlon starts at 7:45am. ALL TRI-ENTRANTS MUST HAVE THEIR BIKES IN THE TRANSITION AREA NO LATER THAN 6:45 AM

AWARDS: Five deep in all Age & Relay team categories. All youth also receive a participant ribbon.

REGISTRATION: Registration Packet pick-up on Saturday October 29th is HIGHLY recommended, Registration packets and late registration will be available at Iron Gear Sports, 6655 E. McDowell road, Mesa, AZ 85215 (480) 396-4766 from 1pm to 5pm. (Suite 103, southwest corner of Power and McDowell)

FEES:
MINI ADULT TRI: $67 postmarked before October 15th $77 thereafter.
MAXI ADULT TRI or MAXI DU: $72 post marked before October 15th, $82 thereafter.
TRI RELAY TEAMS: $140 postmarked before October 15th $150 thereafter.
Youth Race TRI ONLY: $47 postmarked before October 15th $52 thereafter

RACE DAY ENTRIES ADD ADDITIONAL $5 TO LATE FEE! REG. IS LIMITED TO 500 ENTRANTS!

DIVISIONS:
Children’s Race Age divisions: 7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14 yrs old (TRI ONLY)
Individual Male and Female: 15-19, 20-24; 25-29; 30-34; 35-39; 40-44; 45-49; 50-54; 55-59; 60-64; 65-69; 70+, Athena – Females 150+ lbs — Clydesdale – Males – 200+ lbs,
Relay divisions: Coed, All Female, All Male.

SPONSORS: Iron Gear Sports, Landis Cyclery, Adobe Images, Carlos O’Brien’s, M & J Trophies, Triple Sports., Hammer Gel, Adobe Graphics, Coffee’s of Hawaii, Tri-Family Racing,: Over $750.00 in merchandise, WOW !!!!!

Sanctioning

USA Triathlon is the national governing body for the sports of triathlon, duathlon, winter triathlon and aquathlon in the United States. Participation in a USAT sanctioned event means the event director has the proper permits in place, liability and athlete excess medical insurance coverage and the event plan has met the standard of organization required. USA Triathlon provides rules, guidance and governance to set the standard for safe and fair multi-sport races. For more information on USA Triathlon and fueling the multi-sport lifestyle, visit our website at http://www.usatriathlon.org.

A train, a train….would you, could you on a train.

 My days do revolve around "train"ing, and my mantra these days is certainly about increased locomotion, but actual steam engines are kind of off track, as are Green Eggs and especially Ham, green or any another color. However, the first fifty years of my life, my response to any form of on-going non-theater related physical exercise received a response very like Sam-I-Am’s response to a green breakfast. As of right now, with a little help from my friends, this triathlon train is still the one on which I am booked.

Yesterday, three of the four women showed up for class at the pool, even though we knew Phil (trainer) would be absent. I managed for the second time to complete the full homework in length, if not with its requested continuity.

Here is my current swim training schedule (again), with actual how it happened commentary.

2 Lap Kick Board warm up, focus on breathing and consistently moving. (I get this part done and keep my face in the water, at the end of one lap I am already breathing like I am exercising; during second lap I feel it in my legs; by the end I am kicking more efficiently.)

4 Laps free style with no, or minimal (30 seconds or less) break ( I get all 4 laps done but the breaks are more like 30 seconds between halves, and 60 seconds, 90 seconds, 90 second, 2 minutes between the laps. I swim all four  75 percent breast stroke-like style. My heart at this point is racing to get out of my ribcage and I thankfully need a potty break)
 
1 Lap Kick-board (Still able to keep face in water at least half the time, legs are feeling energized rather than earlier sore, can emptying your bladder reduce lactic acid?)
 
3 Laps free style (These are my WTF do I think I am doing even trying to be an athlete laps. It was also here that I managed this week to do a half a lap in my poor form breast stroke without flipping or stopping and it was at this point I started bargaining with myself about how if I could just do a full lap without stopping I would allow myself to quit early. This pushes me to really focus on trying to swim face down, but can’t do the full lap without a half-way 90 second pause.)
1 Lap Kick-board.( I just do it. Slow but steady, goggles off. Just locomotion)
 
2 Laps free style.( I really try to do these well but I am physically tired and so the "can’t breath" voice gets quite a bit louder. I Did manage one more half lap in breast stroke without stopping or flipping to back stroke.)

1 lap Kick-board. (By this time I am constantly telling myself, "OK, just do another half-lap. Just another half-lap, then if you really need to you can stop. My desire to finish means taking no break at the turn is a lot easier)

1 Lap free style (I try to make this my best lap, it isn’t but that approach at least gets me through it.)

Cool down
2 laps with kickboard focusing on breathing. It will be little extra hard here because you will be tired. Thats ok, try to push through it. (I pushed through, barely. Actually crying inside as I make myself breath out under water while my little voice has a full on fit. Cheered as I finished and was cheered by Dawns support!)

 
Then Rick and Dawn took me to breakfast at the Coffee Shop. I am borrowing Dawns Ipod since mine burst into flames. The funny part of the fire in my car story was that I was listening to an audio book by James Owen and the heroes had just arrived on an island representing Dante’s sixth hell. I would expect Apple will attribute it to the realistic prose. I put it out by pulling the FM broadcast/charger out of my lighter socket and using my swim towel to smother. Car still smells a bit of smoky plastic and wire solder, but nothing worse than the loss of my Ipod to show for it. 
 
So much more to tell about this week, but it is time to get ready for work. I will work today, go swim tonight, work on my Twenty Wishes (Ladies book club thing) and my outline for next months camp nanowrimo novel. Probably no new entries till Monday unless I achieve some unforeseen amazing breakthrough.
 
P.S. I did not go swim tonight but will tomorrow. I was starving when I got home and decided to cook dinner instead and then it is early to bed. I was yawning all day at work. As important as training is to me. Job comes first.
 
Namaste, fellow star catchers.
 

Valiant friends in a struggle ‘gainst impossible odds.

      "Aw, don’t give up hope,"  said Tummeler. "This is the part in stories where they gets real good–valiant friends in a struggle ‘gainst impossible odds."   (a quote from Here There Be Dragons, Book One in the Imaginarium Geographica by James Owen. A perfect audio book exercise companion as I walk and bike, etc this week).

"

"Melinda Mae" 
by Shel Silverstein

Have you heard of tiny Melinda Mae,
Who ate a monstrous whale?
She thought she could,
She said she would,
So she started in right at the tail.
 

And everyone said,"You’re much too small,"
But that didn’t bother Melinda at all,
She took little bites and she chewed very slow,
Just like a little girl should…

…and eighty-nine years later she ate that whale

Because she said she would."

 

"I get by with a little help from my friends." The Beatles
 
I love Kaliedescopes, I guess because they are a physical representation of how  life is. I have a "make-your-own" Kaleidescope I purchased a few years ago at the Nelly Bly in Jerome, AZ.  The store is a destination in itself with Kaleidescope art selling for more than I make in a year. The one I bought was inexpensive and I actually fill it with found pieces of discarded "stuff" like chipped marbles, old earring sparkles, rocks, sticks, leaves, etc. I take different pieces of junk, shove a few in the end of a piece of PVC pipe outfitted with glass and mirrors and screw on the cap.  Nothing in the individual components accounts for the breathtaking beauty and variety my eye finds when I look. The cumulative effect is as magical to me as the 100,000$ ones.
 
Like that PVC pipe my life is pretty mundane, there is nothing remarkable about me.  If I look at my current set of life circumstances one way; individually scrutinizing the minutiae of the problems; the trashy health issues, the lacking skill sets, the scarcity of financial resources, time constraints, etc, the idea of becoming anything special, especially any kind of an athlete and most especially a triathlete is clearly and overwhelmingly preposterous.  
 
However, I, like everyone else, am a kaleidoscopic.  It is not the composition of the tube or individual value of the found items but how they are viewed together that makes the beauty. When I turn the kaleidescope of my life a bit to the right, let the challenges tumble together and let in a little more of gratitude’s light, all the pretty scraps of detritus collected between the lenses of hard work and faith become a laughing colored rainbow miracle.  
 
Last week, my hope was a mite shaky and my resolve a bit sorer than my thigh muscles. I was stuck on the fact that a gym membership is the most effective way to be able to continue my training for the triath, especially in Arizona in the summer. However my Quicken Books program was (and is) telling me that my outgo exceeds my current income by about 1500 dollars this month, and a gym membership, just like buying a bike right now, are luxuries, not necessities. To correctly tell this story I need to backtrack a little.

 
The beginning of May I was pretty pleased with myself and grateful to the abundance in the universe because I had just gotten constantly back to the black  (which I will again by the fall at current rate). (Not sure why, but it matters to me to mention that my debt is almost all medical and educational.) I was finally paying off a large tax debt (courtesy of delaying the end of a  previous marriage in a community property state) and I was planning a party to celebrate the awesomeness of life and dance and all that is good in the world. I wanted to throw the party in June as I had the means in my savings to do so, still meet all my bills and have necessary reserves.
 
 Then a glitch in the health of my awesome Beige Pearl(car),  in the health of my sweet little Lhasa Apso, in the health of my new big ol’ lovable lunk of a Golden Retriever and me all occurred at pretty much the same time.  Not only was the excess gone but my reserves were drained as well and lots of little gold triangles were showing up on my Quicken planning grid.(Gold triangles are indicative of negative balance)
 
Thanks to local business AZ Auto Repair’s honesty and efficiancy, my 11 yr old paid for car is still my ship of choice (at 30-35mpg). My longtime canine companions needs were met with a Viox prescription and a food change and my new Golden boy has his Thyroid levels and ears back in acceptable condition. I also still happily threw the party, just changed the food to "Stone Soup" which actually improved the party!
 
My personal health crisis pushed me to taking a little more responsibility for myself and effectively highlighted my need to have a clear cut fitness goal, as opposed to health issues to fight against. What we give energy to grows stronger. I toyed with the goal of completing a triathlon three years ago, ran a 5K and then quit. What I wanted to stop giving energy to could be considered big, so  I needed a nice bright whale to eat or the shadow of the illness might overwhelm me and  I just might stop chewing.
I knew revisiting the Triath goal was the right choice. I also knew I would need a few things I didn’t have, like swimming lessons and a pool to practice in, a bycicle and the ability to ride one, a place to use a "spin" bike, a place to run laps as temps topped 100 because unlike other places I’ve lived, Arizona stays hot 24/7 in the summer. I set the impossible goal and turned it over to the universe as I began talking about it and doing my research.
 
The universe showed up for me, as it always does, with bells on! A pool to practice in materialized when my son and daughter-in-law were my first true supporters. In fact, my daughter-in-law decided to join me in the training and despite a crazy professional and school schedule is up at the crack of Dawn (her actual name, LOL) and in the water training with me at their community pool. Rick held the back of his VERY EXPENSIVE bike while I took my first tentative rides and Dawn took me on a guest pass to her gym this week. They also donated (gifted?) me a smart phone that logs my miles, calories, etc as well as allowing me to end a bitter relationship with StraightTalk. (I think calls to their Customer Service count as actual purgatory for practicing Catholics.)
 
Support has come from other friends too, as Amie walked mall laps with me and my friend Pat allowing me to add in some stationary bike time,  treadmill and  elliptical with her coaching and encouragement on one of her guest passes. Its happening. I don’t have all the answers, I don’t even know all the right questions, tomorrow is a mystery. Today I will get my work done, go for laps at the mall, visit Costco and really read the details on the 3 month membership I saw on sale there to see if it is the best current option, do my swim practice, and put some gas in my car. I will relook at my budget and try to get ends to wave at each other so I can pay a very important 250$ past due bill, my rent, keep the lights on, eat, buy gas for my car and still train.
 
I am getting by with a little help (OK, a LOT of help) from my friends but I am also concentrating on the power of my own choices, so in the coming weeks I will take whatever extra shifts I can without working myself into being a less effective nurse, trim my budget to its bones. (Okay in the interest of complete honesty, I have a serious NEED for books and music and will admit to spending about 50$ between the two of them in the last month, but I take it out of my food budget to justify the variance from necessities! Bread and Roses, man, Bread and Roses)

So pretty much my life is like everyone else.  I am just at the part of the story where it gets good and I do have valiant friends. Some are the close"real" kind like my son Rick, his wife Dawn, Sara, Pat, Amie, Ann, Angela and some are outer circle friends like my Rennaisance friends, some are lifetime friends like "Donny" and Egon, and some are my "imaginary" friends like Tummeler, the Inklings, and Melinda Mae. Hope is restored, I cannot fail with this kind of army with me, so I better get back to the battle.

 
P.S. If you are reading my blog and have never read any the following books, forget my blog until you go read them. I am just a middle aged sojourner babbling about her struggles to keep on swimming, Everything important you need to know about life is found in these books, and they are simple to read due to intended audience. 
 
1.Wrinkle in Time by Madeliene L’Engle (1st in series of 4)
2. Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis 
3. The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
4. Here There Be Dragons by James Owen
5. Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
 
 

Starting where I am, progress and using pain as tool for peace.

If you are reading my blogs because of the triathlete training tag, I ask you  to endure the first more literary leg of this blog as my transition to my new obsession will come faster and more smoothly than I predict my first actual race transition will be, but then again I might just surprise us all.  

 
I am a typical middle aged bookworm with bulky glasses, more imaginary friends than lifetime peer relationships and a large, low rear center of gravity. I am typically voracious in my book appetites if atypically eclectic in my reading style. Just finished Melissa Anelli’s nonfiction "Harry, A History" at breakfast, and half way through "Hexed" by Kevin Hearne from lunch. I am listening to Jim Butcher’s Dresden files on audio while in the car and am up to book 6. I am rereading (again) "Ghandi an Autobiography" in the bathroom, have Jon Kabat-Zinn on the night stand and C.S. Lewis "The Great Divorce" in my briefcase.  

Certain writers are my mainstays, but I will try any printed page for depth and flavor. I have an ice cream like hankering for the spiritual and I am a huge fan of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Pema Chodron, and C.S. Lewis. I can’t get enough of their writings. One of their books is always in play, not only because the written works themselves are immensely readable but also because the author’s human struggle is the muddy garden in which these flowers of  enlightenment bloom.  Ghandi and Lewis have been with me since childhood and can be blamed for my attempt to guide my life by the principles of Satipatthana and Ahimsa. Pema joined my team when I was struggling to build some new neural pathways post surgery and infection and was given her book  "When Things Fall Apart"; she introduced annata, annica and duhka to me as the tools they are in language I understood. 

I am not quite a book junkie who will just buy a book for the score, but I do have certain lighter favorite authors like Charles de Lint,  Wil Wheaton,  James Owen, Jasper Fforde, Karen Armstrong, Ayya Khema and Linda Pastan whose works are now purchased whenever they appear and are devoured on the strength of past positive experience. Then there are the authors like Christopher Moore, Debbie Macomber,  Stephen King,  David McCullough whose flashes of brilliance in the midst of McMainstream writing will get me to peruse the back cover of their latest and often buy it.  

 
I am making it sound like I choose what I read, but as I look more closely at my overstuffed shelves, I see that all a book really needs to do, is sit attractively on the front table of Changing Hands (my, yes MY, no I don’t own it but it is where I spend all my book money) and bat its attractively colored cover at me, flirt with an intriguing chapter list, or maybe take me out on that first page date, and I am theirs; mind, time and wallet. So many books, so little time, so many stories to live (from the comfort of my armchair with a nice glass of tea in easy reach.) I am the typical book nerd full of sweet and salty treats and disdainful of all that sweaty spandex sports world.
 
Which is why I am baffled as much by the book I am carrying around constantly as I am at this person stretching across from me in my bedroom mirror. Perhaps it is a a bit of a midlife crisis that starting June 1, 2011 I officially came out as a triathlete wanna be. The book I carry now (all the time!) is by Jayne Williams. 
 
The cover is a very realistic sports in progress photo with too much yellow; it looks more like a healthy diet bar than a tasty  tome. Inside the book the author’s writing style would have won my mockery in the days as a professional critic. The funny thing is, I think that would have been Okay with her, maybe more than okay, she would have embraced my mockery and just kept running, swimming, biking and sharing her experience.
 
If my  am very sure she would have been okay, it is because she is teaching me to be okay as well. Her book, "Slow, Fat Triathlete" has become as important to my going forward as Ghandi has been to my getting here. The funny thing is, she says all the things I am used to hearing from my spiritual sensei’s but the meaning is now manifest in the tight stretch of my neck to improve the chance of breathing air instead of water, the fold of my abdomen impeding a new core building yoga pose, the awkward weight and friction of my thighs as I break into a trotting sort of run.  I struggle with the very real dailiness of starting where I am in something I don’t have to do, compassion for the non-athlete I am is as much a challenge as the movements. Pain is proof I am pushing to improvement. The challenge today was to be mindful enough of my needs to take the day off training (Yup, Jayne recommends downtime too!) Patience, practice, compassion….easier said than done when the only success is showing up again to the process.
 
As to the annihilation of ego portion of my life program, that is a whole story in itself. The biggest ego lesson of slow, fat triath training is not the very HUGE one of continuing to show up for something I don’t shine at, the biggest lesson for me has to do with learning the "self" in selflessness.
 
I want to complete a triathlon, it has been on my bucket list for a few years. But… I don’t need to complete this goal to support myself better. It won’t make the world a better place. It won’t feed anyone, heal anyone, save anyone; make anyone’s life better except maybe me. This is probably the first most selfish thing I have ever done.  If I am no more and no less than anyone else, and I would make this kind of effort, utilize these resources, spend this time to help another, is this then my lesson in letting go of ego, I can and should do the same for me?
 
More daily logs coming tomorrow…for now, me and my deep thoughts are gonna go clean the bathroom and then make a healthy supper and maybe go for a swim, and if the pool bullies are there, I have a plan.
 
 
 

Writer’s Block: The long and short of it

Time is only a perception, so it is on this perception, not page count, I will answer this prompt.
The longest book I ever read was Ulysses by James Joyce. It was a "new" edition and was a required review inclusion for my column, so its heft was emphasized by time constraint. I remember that I started my review with the statement "There are two kinds of people in the literary world, those who will tell you they have read James Joyce "Ulysses" in its entirety with relish, and those who prefer truth to pretension."  I appreciated its art, its shock value and Joyce’s talent but truly felt much of the praise given to the tome reeked of  "the Emperor’s New Clothes" syndrome, right down to the intricate and intimate level Joyce’s inner neurosis were nakedly dangled in our faces. Someday I may read it again,just to see if my opinion has changed.

The shortest is tough, but recent  books that were devoured so quickly I only wished for more deliciousness and therefore had to re-read and savor again and again are James Owen’s "Here There Be Dragons", Claudia Emerson’s "late wife",  and most recently a collection called "Bordertown", in particular the final story by Charles de Lint.