wind run

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I don’t know why a windy run always takes me by surprise, but it does.

Yesterday’s run reminded me, again, all about wind. There’s all that resistance as you’re heading into it, and the pleasant relief of turning a corner and feeling it swoosh in behind you as if you are suddenly light.

For just a moment, it reminded me of my sailing days of long ago, tacking into the wind, making slow progress but getting there nonetheless – or the pleasant rush of a downwind run, maybe wing-on-wing or with a spinnaker.

As I was running, several flocks of geese passed overhead. I waved and called out, “Bon voyage!” I doubt they heard me, though, because they were going fast on the wind – like Mach 5 fast. It was crazy.

For a minute, it made me want to fly. I felt as if I almost could, and I flapped my arms a bit as I ran. Just as quickly, I realized, I am pretty happy just the way I am. I must have been going downwind right then.

The leaves were blowing everywhere as I trotted along. The wind has done a good job of undressing the trees. There were huge heaps of color here and there wherever I went. Many of the trees are already bare, but there are still quite a few blazing with colors from green to yellow to orange to red.

I am planning to do a 5k next month. I say this because I realized as I was running yesterday that I have very conveniently failed to sign up for said run so far. This is a clear sign that I am leaving myself the option of NOT doing the run. If I am leaving myself that option, there’s a very good possibility that underneath all my good intentions is yet another intention to not make the run. Why is that, anyway?

It’s good to sign up, and shoot for a goal. To try and do better than you did the last time. To show up, anyway. It makes you work harder as you prepare for the event. So I’ll sign up tomorrow. I will.

I really will.

Oh, and a little update. My new running shoes? They are absolutely awesome!! And the little twinge that was beginning to bother me in my left knee? What do you know – it’s all good now. Shoes make a difference. Lesson learned!

rain run

veru10_29_18It starts out as just a sort of misty sprinkling. About the end of mile two, it’s a full-on rain.

Since it’s about 40 degrees out, I wear a couple of layers, including my windbreaker, along with a hat. And, of course, I wear my new running shoes. I tuck my phone into a plastic bag in my pocket.

I love running in the rain. It underscores intent and purpose. It’s deliberate. You know you mean it. You’re standing by your commitment. Nobody else is out. It’s just you and the elements.

Actually, it feels free. It feels real. No umbrella, no taking cover under a roof. No wondering how your hair or anything else looks. It’s just mixing it up with exactly what’s happening out in the open air.

You feel the raindrops on your face, cold and bitey. You try to keep various parts of you dry for awhile, but eventually give up. Although I have to say, the windbreaker definitely does its job.

As long as you keep moving, you stay warm enough, and it feels good.

Post-run, it’s a different story. The full sogginess of things finally becomes apparent. Socks are soaked and feet are cold. Everything, actually, finally starts to feel cold après run. Hat, gloves, jacket, pants, yup, everything gets quickly hung up somewhere to dry out in the hurry to get warmed up.

And that hot shower?

Whoa, you know you earned how good that feels.

 

New kicks

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It was time.

There were just so many miles on my beloved running shoes. I mean, we were totally bonded. All that bonding took its toll.

My bedraggled, worn out shoes originally came into my life as a delightful surprise. One day, I headed into the running store to meet up and head out on a run. Upon arrival, the store owner told me that, courtesy of my son, I should pick out a pair of new shoes. Turns out that my awesome son had remembered my birthday and managed to think of the absolutely perfect surprise for me. He had called from out of state to my fave store and made the arrangements.

My son may not have envisioned the little impromptu party that went along with it (or maybe he did). Here were my running buddies, all of them also delighted by my son’s thoughtfulness. And then, the ensuing birthday wishes and, of course, shoe shopping. Ultimately, there was a get-together at the local brew spot. It was all very festive.

Those shoes went with me through wind, rain, and snow. They crossed finish lines. They bore witness to my tears, expletives, affirmations, and joyous aha moments. They were there when the geese flew over, when the butterflies circled, when the birds sang, when the alligators made their silent dare.

So many amazing memories, but emotional attachment cannot stand in the way of good, safe running.

Uhm, can it?

As I mentioned, it was time.

In a new-to-me town here, I made my first venture into the local running store in search of new shoes. I came out with just what I wanted, and so far, so good. Got the Altra Escalante, zero-drop, roomy toe box. Kind of weird to feel the cushion in there – feels very self-indulgent, but I think I’ll adjust. And I also understand these kicks to be vegan-friendly.

The shoes are not inexpensive to me, but they are important to me. It is a good thing that I could allow myself to make this a priority.

In a world that seems to be getting a little crazier by the day, it’s important to stay centered and hold peace in intention. Don’t ask me why or how, but my locomotion is part of how I make that happen.

So. Time to break in the new kicks.

sunshine and shadow

veru10_24_18bA really nice run late in the day.

It started out kind of rough.

I was really aware of how closed and tight my body was feeling. I focused on relaxing. I paid attention to my breathing.

My mind was all over the map and anxious. I decided to count the entire run – very slowly. This leaves very little room for, you know, thinking. I noticed that counting slower improved my pace, too. Go figure.

It was chilly out, but the sun was shining. Where I was running in shadow, it felt cold. Where I was running in sunshine, though, I could really feel the warm. I started noticing the light and the dark as I approached them.

It reminded me of one of the first quilts I ever made – a simple variation of an Amish Sunshine and Shadow pattern. Lots of bright colors juxtaposed with black. Everything, of course, solid colors.

After I got going long enough, I unzipped my windbreaker, and my hat actually made things too warm.

I found that by the end of my run, I felt relaxed and my mind had settled down. I looked up at the blue sky and felt grateful.

So many reasons to run.

perks

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Super tired this evening, but I made myself lace up and get out the door anyway. The brimming moon showed itself as I made my slow progress, filling me with a happy wonder. Here and there the autumn leaves lit up the trees. The cool air soothed.

My thoughts loosed and flew free under that big moon. So much to see, to feel – and to think I would have missed it if I had given in to my fatigue and shuttered myself in for the evening. 

By the way, it’s not quite a full moon – that happens on Oct. 24. Turns out it’s called the Hunter’s Moon, so named for shedding light on autumn prey.

This also happens to be the time of the Orionid meteor showers. Gotta love those shooting stars!

So many amazing things out there in the universe, if we just take the time to look.

 

discipline, and the lack of it

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Running makes all the difference. Running, for me, is not merely exercise, it is meditation, restoration, prayer, and creative inspiration. All that is not to mention fresh air, community, goals, and accomplishments. Nothing but good things come to me from running, aside from the occasional sore knee.

And just imagine if I was a fast runner, because fast I definitely am not.

So why is it that I periodically fall away from it? I’m going along, keeping track of my times and miles, maybe with a 5K in mind somewhere. And then one day, poof! I just stop. And I have no idea why.

veru9_17_18aOf course, once stopped, it’s a bear to get going again – even if it’s just been a few days. I might have a false start, or several of them, as I attempt to get back in gear.

I feel guilty when I’m in one of these spells. I’m embarrassed even though no one knows or cares. I feel ashamed of myself for not having enough discipline.

I cast around thinking maybe a new pair of shoes would do it, or that I seriously need to find myself a coach – one with the express purpose of kicking my butt out the door.

I study the calendar, and figure if I just set up a schedule, maybe that would do it.

veru9_17_18dMeantime, it’s easily observable that whilst my running regime languishes, everything else does, too. Creativity goes into sleep mode. Anxiety soars. Even eating becomes problematic – too much or not enough. Everything is just off, out-of-kilter.

I just lately saw this happen. As I type these words, I am laced up in my running shoes. Procrastinating. Almost scared. Why? Why? Why?

Is this a simple matter of discipline? Or does it have to do with the planets? Or is it the result of a triggering experience that is suppressing and exacerbating things of which the lack of running just happens to be the most obvious symptom?

I am inclined, actually, to think it’s the latter. My inability to get myself out the door and down the road during these times reflects an unrecognized emotional reaction. Having the complicated wiring we humans do, the very best thing I could do for myself in the case of said reaction would be to get some miles under my feet. But, you know, self-sabotage.

Sometimes it is very difficult to be good to myself.

Nevertheless, it has to happen. I’ve done it before, and I can do it again. It’s essential to my well-being, on every level. It is a matter of self-compassion, taking good loving care of myself.

OK now, one foot in front of the other.

Woolly Bear on the move

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You know Mother Nature is at work when you go to place your foot on the trail and there, poised unwittingly directly in the path of your oncoming sole, you find a Woolly Bear caterpillar inching its way along.

The Woolly Bear caterpillar is the larval stage of the Isabella Tiger Moth. It’s not an uncommon sight as autumn comes on. The caterpillar is on a mission.

veru9_11_18cThe Woolly Bears are out and about this time of year for the same reason so many creatures in Michigan begin to get a move on. The caterpillars are locating their overwintering spot, likely in the shelter of leaves, rocks, or wood.

My first Woolly Bear of the season took me by surprise by sporting an entirely rust-colored coat. I’m accustomed to seeing them banded at each end with black.

There’s lore about the coloration of these little dudes. The more ‘rust’ coloration they have, the milder the winter will be – so goes the thought. If that’s the case, this little Woolly Bear I chanced upon suggests a mild winter indeed. 

Folklore aside, the solid rust coloration is actually the result of multiple moltings. According to Peterson Field Guides Eastern Moths by Charles V. Covell, Jr.:

Colors change as caterpillars molt to successive instars, becoming less black and more reddish as they age.  Thus differences in color merely reflect age difference among larvae as they prepare to overwinter and are not a reliable indicator of the severity of the winter to come.

It’s pretty amazing when you think about it that these little guys will find their spot and manage to weather a Michigan winter. 

Then, come spring, they’ll spin their cocoon. Ultimately, voila, we have the Isabella Tiger Moth for a brief soujourn.

Who needs football or Netflix when you have this kind of magic around to observe?

something beautiful

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It is easy to lope along the path and not really see anything in particular. Eyes focused on the ground ahead, everything else is peripheral.

Whole days pass in similar fashion. You stay focused on what needs to happen, where you need to go, and lots of things remain out there, virtually unseen in the periphery.

Every now and then, though, something captures your attention for a moment before you press on with the agenda. A stranger smiles at you as you pass, or says something nice to you. A friendly dog makes you laugh. A rainbow emerges. You just never know.

Except you do. There’s something beautiful out there each and every day if you’re paying attention.

A lot of our attention thveru9_3_18c.jpgese days gets sucked up by pretty depressing media. It can frame our days with anxiety, fear,  and disappointment. We suffer with it collectively.

The headlines and the tweets seem unavoidable, but there, out there in the blur of life is a bright red cardinal poised on a branch. It’s a gift from the universe, if we can but notice it. Or maybe it’s the wind in the trees, or a purring cat, or a star in the night sky, or a gentle, spoken word.

I have decided to be on the lookout for these beautiful things. I am noticing with intention.

So, among other things, I stopped today to really look at the cardinal I caught out of the corner of my eye. I discovered two woodpeckers and a talkative chipmunk on scene as well as a pretty fantastic berried tree that I really need to look up.

The more I think about this business of beautiful moments in our lives, large and small, it seems like the thing to do is also to actively bring beauty to this party – in whatever form that might take.

In truth, I am not sure what that means for me exactly: to find ways to bring beautiful moments to the world – to other people, to other animals, to the earth, the universe. But what a delightful little adventure.

I do not advocate ignoring the pressing issues of our times to soothe our souls. I can’t help but think that a collective practice of bringing beauty, and taking it in, would have the power ultimately to impact the negative framework and indeed, the entire narrative.

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groove

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The rain clears, and I am out the door.

veru9_2_18bMy feet carry me along the city streets. It’s a sleepy place this morning, but it’s still too much city for me.

“The world is too much with us,” I hear Wordsworth in my head.

And it really is.

I am unsettled, impatient, searching for that groove in my soul. But today, my locomotion fails to answer.

I go from block to block, watching where my feet are taking me. I notice a few pine cones, fallen leaves. I glance up onto manicured lawns, landscaped houses. It makes me tired.

I remember a house that gave their front yard over to a vegetable garden. I head that way, but find it, unsurprisingly, in an end-of-season riot of weeds and tired plants.

I scan the treetops along the streets. With the sun full out, I see the beginnings of autumn in them. A few leaves going yellow here, rusty-red there.

I keep going, searching, searching for that meditative stride – the fix. The world pushes in at me, though. I see cement, asphalt, bricks, blocks, and a whole lot of plastic. Plastic benches, plastic fencing, planters… flamingos and frogs. I am careful at the corners as cars lurch past.

An hour later, I am still searching but arrive back at my place anyway, heralded by the big silver maple.

And then I see them.

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The monarch butterflies are staying over at the silver maple today. I see one first. As I approach, it flutters up along with several others. I realize I am seeing monarch butterflies all over the tree.

They rest among the leaves for awhile, and then they flit upward, almost sparkling in the sunshine, before settling down on another branch.

If I look long enough at any area of the tree, I see them. Sometimes they are perched in a little group together along a branch.

And then the next thing you know, surprise, up they go and everyone trades places to settle down somewhere else on the same tree.

I stand outside wandering beneath the tree, looking up into its branches, like a child.

My impatience with the world evaporates up through the leaves, and I stretch my wings with the butterflies.

 

you are here

veru9_1_18aToday, it’s raining.

It’s one of those light, steady rains that’s not going away.

Having recently reached an agreement with myself to get outside and walk or run every day, I pull on my windbreaker and head out.

The river that runs through the park flows swiftly in places, roiling over the hidden rocks. Eddies churn in the various corners of the route. Other spots are flat and still, quietly dotted with raindrops.

Along the edges, everything looks so dark and so green. It makes me realize how close we are coming to the change of seasons.

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People blast music out from under the protection of the park’s pavilion. The smoke of barbecue wafts through the air. Snippets of laughter and chatter bite the atmosphere, eerily crisp and distinct.

 

On the other side of the wide expanse, another pavilion is draped with white. A crowd gathers there for a wedding, folks struggling hastily with their dressy attire in the rain.

I silently skitter along the path, noticing the cabbage butterfly flitting among the viney greens, the pair of ducks nestled against the far shore of the river.

Thunder rumbles.

veru9_1_18bA small boy rides his bicycle up and down, up down through the empty skate park. He halts and looks warily at me as I pass.

“Looks like fun,” I smile at him.

He suddenly brightens all over and smiles back.

“Thank you!” His little voice sounds surprised and hopeful and suddenly proud.

No, today, I didn’t bother worrying about pace or posture, I just made sure I got outside and moved. And I knew why it is so worth it. It’s the magic of that gentle, affirming connection with what’s out there – the earth, the sky, the air.  And the occasional soul.