“Education is the great engine of personal development. It is what we make of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.” Nelson Mandela in Long Walk to Freedom
My top two favorite consumer activities are eating delicious food and acquiring new knowledge. I have spent the last week celebrating my birthday and indulging my consumer. I have eaten well, and read four books.
Today, being the 17th, is officially the last day of my birthday week, time to blog, re-focus on contribution and compassion and basically re-enter the mundane world. I am easing myself back into my routines physically, psychologically and spiritually.
This past week, I have eaten without respect to calorie count but only in relation to joy and taste; I have not maintained any regular triathlon training schedule but was hardly a couch potato either; and I have spent a lot of time writing in a journal not just reading paper books
So, what have I actually consumed and what have I learned this week….
First what I consumed….
My week of food began Wednesday morning, my actual birthday, with coffee and a vegan fudge cupcake at The Coffee Shop, this was as close to an actual birthday cake as I would get, no candles or singing this birthday, but the moist cocoa flavor and the rich buttery feel of the frosting in my mouth (how they do this vegan I do not know) is a whole party in itself. I then had fried pickles and rhubarb pie in Black Canyon on our way to Sedona which was also a tasty food highlight. The next and final great gastronomic highlight of Birthday week was brunch at Shugrue’s Hillside Grill just before heading down the mountains to the valley. The service, the vegetarian options and the view were the awesome sauce on an already awesome meal. In between all the eating out and refined sugar intake were some lovely salads and protein and nutrient rich grains prepared in the room by my friends.
My mouth and tummy were well taken care of this birthday week and what I learned from my fuel intake was that I do still love my frosting and I still truly love eating the rainbow, that fresh fruits and vegetables provide me. I did however gain three pounds while studying.
However, I also dropped nine pounds of actual body fat, due to building all new muscle groups through hiking. It wasn’t just about reading. No couch potato here, I hiked the Brewer trail three mornings in a row.
Each time up and down the trail I learned and saw something new and different. It was like rereading a book. The first time through it is all about getting to the end, but the second or third time I slow down and appreciate the poetry of the words, the intricacies of the character development, I savor nuances that tell me this story was written by say Mr. Vonnegut instead Ms. Atwood. The first hike was all about getting to the top and the grand vistas, the second and third although they included the meditation and exultation at the top they were also chances to notice the flowers and the trees and a hundred little details along the path.
The middles of the second and third hikes were about the beauty of the details but they were also about continuing to put one muscle tired foot in front of the next, over and over and over again. Like every single journey, each hike was also about stamina and persistence.
I have always had a problem with middles, from what I observe maybe we all do, but what I know for sure is that I do. I often want to quit in the middle.
Once in the middle of labor, during the actual delivery of my son Wil (who, for the record, was over 11 pounds), I officially quit. I lay back on the delivery table and told my husband I wasn’t pushing anymore, that I was tired, and since he seemed to know what I should be doing, HE could just get up there and have this baby. I was done pushing.
Luckily my husband didn’t argue with me, he just said, “Okay honey, you can quit. You are tired, but before you do you, just give it one more push like the doctor asked and then I will get up there on the table and do it.”
“OK,” I said in tearful exhaustion, “One more push.” On the next contraction I bent forward and pushed really hard one more time and finally after ten and a half months of pregnancy, 46 hours of labor followed by six hours of what seemed fruitless pushing the head of our son emerged. I will never forget that moment.
Bill and I both were crying as the rest of the baby emerged and he kept patting my hand and saying, “See, you just needed one more push.”
I have no talent for these physical things I love to eat and I love to read, I am talented with words and food and sedentary mind-based activities. I do mostly like running, hiking, swimming and soon I hope I will like biking, but I have no natural talent nor the build for these things. That is why I call myself a SOFT athlete. Slow Old Fat Try Athlete, because for me its not about talent it is about continuing to try.
I understand about middles, but these hikes helped remind me. So that is why today, even though I am exhausted and discouraged and still can’t ride a bike. I am not about to quit my triathlon just before the miracle happens.
P.S. I forgot this blog in drafts where I left it for edits one day and I am finally publishing two weeks later after the miracle happened and I finally rode my bike. Still have a bit of the case of the “middles”, you know, that place where motivation is slim and discipline needs to pick up the slack. Beginnings have a thrill all their own, endings are triumph or relief, middles are and always will be about showing up and allowing for the miracle to finally happen.