Back in the saddle (or running shoes) again.

Last October I managed to complete a sprint triathlon, a big accomplishment for me. This time last year I had never taken a swimming lesson or ridden a bike, I weighed 247 pounds and I couldn’t run a full city block without getting breathless.  At the time of the race I was 207 lbs and managed to complete the Sprint, my times sucked, but I finished.

I kept at the training with less intensity for another couple months but the pool we had used was unheated and an injury I had sustained two weeks before the race needed healing and some long term medical issues resurfaced which threw my finances into complete disarray so I had to stop the chiro care and couldn’t sign up for a race and I had two more deaths of people close to me which triggered some demotivating depression…and…and..and…..

Bottom line is I started freely spinning my excuse wheel. Stuff happens to everyone, some good, some bad; usually it becomes good or bad by whatever we choose to label it.  I just chose to suddenly call my circumstances bad and use life as an excuse to quit doing what made me feel healthier and happier; I pretty much quit entirely all my “try”athlete adventures. Simultaneously I started eating food I know doesn’t benefit my system, at times that truly were bad for me, in amounts guaranteed to make me ill and fat, and to complete my downhill slide I pretty much quit regular meditation in the mornings.

So here I am today. I am back up to 220 or thereabouts, if I weigh less it is only because I have lost muscle mass. My finances are still in horrible shape and I don’t have a complete plan on how to fix them so definitely do not have money for a trainer anymore or Backfit appointments (the chiropractic office whose massages and adjustments took my pain down form a constant 5 or more to sometimes gone), and I don’t have the money to sign up for any races. I could remain in the place where my excuse wheel is spinning freely in all the things I don’t have, can’t do, etc. or I could use Spring as a motivation to do what works.

So

I got up this morning and went for a run. I am restarting a beginner program for the swimming, biking and running and using My Fitness Pal to track my nutrition and calories.

Discipline does not require any resources I do not already have within me and I know from experience discipline (like all muscles) gets stronger with use!

Fear of failure, pain, and well, looking stupid, didn’t stop me last year and its not going to stop me this year either.

Even if its just a one person timed event by a friend or maybe a family thing with my sons and DIL, I will complete a my size “trY”athlon in 2012. I will swim 10 laps, bike 10 miles and run a 5k, together, at the same time. That’s me goal.

And now I have a concrete goal, I will actually start training. Let me rephrase that, I started training.

That is where I failed myself before, once I finished the race meeting my current goal, I left the next goal too nebulous and soon it was easy to ignore. Most things in my life are like that. Stay tuned for some ramblings on how I hope to fix the other broken places in my life.

So this SOFT athlete is back at it again.

Namaste my friends, and lets all keep moving….

A very interesting day..

I finished my newspaper work on time, and even turned in the right file this time. (Whole other story and not a pretty one, mind you. It was evidence that my tech skills are that of a dinosaur even if my words occasionally are more highly evolved. And Nov 19  issue looked great and they had tons of timely previously cut material to cover my boo boo. Less than half of what I write sees the page usually, although most of it is available online, due to space constraints.

Anyway, anyone who wants to read my current professional work can find it at www.santansun.com. Nope, no byline, but most of the articles in the AZ Arts section are cobbled together by yours truly from press releases, websites and phone calls. My stuff is way at the back starting I think on page 58 through page 65 and the new Editor rewrote my best headlines, but hey, no words are sacred and that is the way the professional writer flavored cookie crumbles or the one about Warhol influenced art at the post office would have the  headline “Pop goes the easel”.

My nano novel is going slow. Will get back to it in the morning. Had to say hi to the blogosphere. Need to go to bed now if I am going to write before going to my “boot camp” training in the AM.

I am not going to talk about the Occupy movement and how that all went down. I don’t have enough clear facts about what happened to cognizantly defend  my initial  reaction (which I have to everything including social networks and GPS), namely “OMG, I am living in that Orwellian dystopia future I read about as a teenager. ” Then after thinking these thoughts, unfortunately and like so many of the rest of us, I go back to my routine. Mostly I go back to what I normally do because I do not understand the purpose of the movement or how I can actually effect their goals. I do oppose the use of police force to squelch free speech and I do believe money and the few who have most of it control large portions of our government. I think that’s evident from the inability to get anything done in Washington, regardless of what percentage of persons in America believe we need infrastructure jobs or the rich paying their fair share of taxes, Big Brother won’t let it happen.

But I also go back to what I do because I cannot save the world if I can’t even tend my own garden of needs. I have bills to pay and mouths (to BIG canine mouths besides mine) to feed, and people who depend on me to meet my responsibilites. I try to change the world a little bit by smiling and saying thank-you as often as I can, by buying local and buying organic if I can, by not consuming more than I need. My commitment is to “Ahimsa” as I understand it and integrating that into my daily small decisions and choices is my own Occupy movement. I am trying very hard to occupy with mindfulness the life I was given. I respect those whose path is different than mine, whose options and choices allow for them change the world in bigger, louder headline ways and don’t believe that resorting to sneakiness or force to stop them is right

So I guess I did talk about what happened to Occupy camps across America, but I am done now. And off to sleep so I can go work on the whole Slow Old Fat Triathlete becoming faster and thinner (however still getting older).

Happy Thanksgiving if I don’t get back before then, And don’t forget Small Business Saturday!

I dun chevvied…

So have tried unsuccessfully to load my swim video of today. Swam 300 meters just not all at once and my form could use a bit of work. I am frustrated by much of life today so gonna go eat and sleep and get up and work again tomorrow. Sorry for minimal blogs but I have not had a day off now in 7 with four more to go thanks to an unusual anset of dunning circumstances.

Also means many social internet obligations undone as well.

I breathe and keep swimming….one length at a time

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.

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.
 
 
 
     

Now I lay me down to sleep…

 Short blog about my training progress and then off to bed. I am incredibly exhausted and plan to try to sleep a little later tomorrow morning as it is a training rest day. 

My big accomplishment this morning at swim practice was completing eight full lengths (or 1/2 lap, 200 yds) of the pool face down in my free form breast stroke. They were not consecutive. Every length down I did non-stop face down but the lengths back were riddled with pauses and pretty much backstroke or dog paddle. My weakness, fear and  rudimentary skill awaken my impatience today more than my doubt. 

 
I am digging my progress. Five weeks ago I couldn’t make a full face in water length with the kickboard. As of this morning I have accomplished the lengths I need to complete the October race. I just need to complete them without lunch breaks. LOL.

Progress, progress. Oh, I also think I found a bike I want for my starter bike. Its a hybrid and about 200$ at Target, and I found the training wheels on Amazon. Though if I can start doing the gym regularly maybe I can skip the training wheel phase as my strength and balance improve.

Noien, my dear canine friend and subject of my last blog, is also doing better today. She is still very low energy and coughing her CHF chuff at any excitement or exertion but she ate a scrambled egg and a Milk-Bone. I am very much concentrating on living in the now with her, and I stand corrected by my youngest son that she is actually 12.5 years old. As a pup, her life span was predicted at 8 to 10 years max due to puppy mill health issues;  I think I started mentally making her younger and younger hoping to stop time’s progress.

 
Speaking of time progressing quickly, I can’t believe 28 years ago I was giving birth to Richard. I did make the Jello for the birthday party, and ate it and the steak my son cooked. He is an awesome cook. It was nice to share his birthday and I am glad I went. 
 
Also pretty much sure it will be the last meat I ever eat. My conscience is bothering me and so is my used to tofu tummy. Just like it takes all kinds of beliefs to make up the world, it takes all kinds of diets. Mine needs to be meat,  milk and wheat free. Sometimes I am a slow learner. I don’t need anyone else to eat that way, but my whole body and soul tonight are reminding me that I do, now it is up to me to take care of me and learn to just say no.
 
 Still the tummy tussle is a small price to pay for a great meal and to hang with them all and make Rick smile. I hope they all finally went swimming. I went home cause I knew I was gonna throw up and well, somethings are better done at home, alone, and I am such an early riser/bed goer no one thought a thing of it.
 
And now once again this Slow, Old, Fat Triathlete is off to dreamland and star catching, if the tennis match in my tummy will just finish.
 
Namaste.