There is so much you can say when you start to tell a story. Its shaping isn’t unlike a lump of clay that hasn’t taken form yet. It can be melded into the liking of your thoughts, your being or just the way you’d like things to go.
I am not sure how to begin this story or what I will say other than it started with a run. You might think me a runner when I start like this or maybe even a writer, but at this stage I have yet to call myself either.
Once at yoga (something that I am very ‘good at’ if you can be good at yoga) the teacher said that we don’t do things we aren’t good at. I wanted to disagree but doubted in class I would have had much clout with this argument given I was doing something I was good at. So I kept silent but thought, “that isn’t true, I run.”
I am not a runner. I run. I run 5ks and a few other longer races now and then. My time is my time, but real runners would chuckle silently if I called myself a runner. Or maybe they would just say, “sure, yes. Keep plugging along.”
I don’t really want to talk about running though. I have another story that might be alittle more interesting or heartfelt or maybe even personal.
I don’t watch the news but know that Black Lives Matter and I think “Yes! AND all Lives Matter” but I don’t know if anyone is listening so I won’t start there. There are terrible things happening and I am sad for both sides and wish that there weren’t sides and that people didn’t take sides. And that life could be good and fair and right. But then I guess we wouldn’t be here. And life wouldn’t be life.
As a mental health professional I have the unique position to hear both sides of the story and all I can say is we have a problem here. A disconnection. A terrible chasm that is getting worse. Like a landslide that is slipping out of control. Some might even dramatically say our country is in trouble. It might even be falling and many of us are helplessly and wordlessly standing by and watching.
When I get quiet I remember what I say to clients who have gotten angry with me or are on the defense. I say, “same team.” As I wag my finger to and fro “You and I are on the same team.” “Lets start over”…and we begin again.
Ok, the clay is coming together and it's taking shape…The gun went off (not really) I just inched towards the starting line at today’s 5k and soon enough I was puffing along and weaving (as I love to do-I am a weaver) through the crowd (my starts are always good!). After awhile with my “CALM” mantra in check I started to get into the groove of the run. It was just me, running it seemed until I butted up against a very tall African American man in front of me. He seemed to be clicking along at a steady pace and at first I was memorized by his footsteps. After a bit though, I got impatient and frustrated as I do when anyone is directly in front of me. With effort I zigzagged around him and he must have been surprised as he picked up his pace and the next thing I knew there he was in front of me again. I thought well, my pace isn’t so bad, right? He isn’t pushing a stroller or chatting with another like he’s out for a leisurely walk--I can be behind him, right? So even though he was directly in front of me blocking my view I just kept running right behind him. We started to turn a corner and there was a police officer holding back traffic for us and the officer looked weary. I couldn’t help think of the chasm that now exists. As I was watching the man’s footsteps, and then looked up as he gave a big wave and said to the officer, “Thank you for your help today!” The officer beamed a big smile as he waved back. And in that moment my heart and it seemed everyone’s opened just a little. And maybe the chasm closed for just a minute.
I would like to say that at that moment I surged ahead with spiritual steam beaming me forward propelling me on past the gentleman, but that isn’t what happened. I plodded along, even slowing down as I do mid race. I even walked up the next hill grabbing a much-needed glass of water my only thoughts then on finishing the race and maybe beating last year’s time.
Near the end, as I ran/walked up the last hill, I am pretty sure, I caught a glimpse of the man now way ahead of me. I silently cheered him on as my steps thumped along. “You go dude. Lead the Way. Rock on.”
That is what I was thinking as I sculpted this story.
3/5/16 I slept well last night and am sitting at our table and chairs in DC. I am admiring the new furniture adoring the floors and the circular rainbow colored painting that looks well fit too. My husband is off to K’s class for yoga our favorite teacher so far in DC. I am too sore to go. I ran around all day yesterday buying high end make up after a makeover by an African American young woman. She nailed it. She was able to give me a makeover that matched the colors to the hue of my skin so well that I bought everything. I don't usually wear makeup but she convinced me to start.
I told her that I was listening to Oprah this morning and how inspirational she is to me. She paused and said, What did she say? I told her the story that Oprah told on You tube on how she was in kindergarten n and said, ‘I don’t belong here. I don’t belong with these kids’ and then she gave her teacher the note of all the words that she knew how to spell. Words most adults don’t even know. The teacher marched her to the principal’s office and the principal made her write out every word not believing that she wrote them in the first place. And she did. The principal then agreed that she didn’t belong in kindergarten and skipped her to first grade. Soon after skipped another grade.
The makeup lady listened and then I said, “What the talk really was about was following your inner compass. Following your intuition regardless of what any one else says. She nodded her head as she picked out another perfect color to draw on my face. After the makeover session was over, I rushed to a Barre class and it was hard as hell. Then I was off to Wholefoods to buy stuff for dinner and took an Uber home as I couldn’t carry everything. The cabbie an African American man jokes as I was worried about putting my kombucha (he mistakes it for beer) in the trunk, “Don’t worry, I won’t steal it,” he jokes, “I quit drinking four years ago,” he tells me. I smile and say, me too.
His story was that he drank heavily as a young person in Desert Storm and was mandated to quit. He did for a period of time and then started up again. “Every day”, he tells me but he didn’t have a problem. (yeah, me too, I think to myself). “You know, drinks before dinner at my sisters. You have to have drinks first, right?” “So one day”, he continues, “I woke up and decided, I don’t want to drink anymore. I just felt like it wasn’t good for my body. My dad died of alcoholism. His liver, you know?” (uh huh, I think). Was it a spiritual experience I ask? “No, I have my spiritual beliefs, yes but it was just being int uned with what my body needs and it didn’t need alcohol anymore.” I congratulate him for listening to his body as so many of us don’t. When I got out of the cab I almost ran into a moving car. He shouts out, “Watch out! be careful!” Uh huh, I think again.
11/2/15 Today I reflect back on yesterday. The impromptu power yoga class that I took that was challenging but also intuitive. The young teacher was able to pace the class so that it wasn’t all a “beat down” My husband's word for a poorly choreographed power class. She threw in yin poses even though they were not to her admitted liking.
The lovely lunch with my friend at Posana the gluten free restaurant in town. How very progressive to have a whole menu of delicious items including pancakes that are gluten free. We share salmon toast and a biscuit as we devour our own finely chopped kale salad with nuts and berries interwoven in. She provides me with gifts for my birthday past. A metal wheel that you spin for answers. Answers like Find your Joy, Rethink your Thoughts. A bag of muffins wrapped in a cloth bag that she warns me are more savory than sweet. We linger over our food before returning to the light rain. I walk her towards her car as I meander unhurriedly around side streets to my own.
I peer in a small shop that is hidden back in one of the coves of downtown and walk in. I have been spending a lot of money lately and feel a sense of guilt that maybe I need to slow down and not do this. It seems it is a reflex when I am happy. The smell of sage is wafting around the store even though the door is open to the outside. This smell keeps me rooted as I pick up books on witches, Samhaim which has just past the day before. I smell salves as I take it their lavender scent. A young woman, with long hair, a long skirt and searching eyes approaches me as if I need to be helped. Maybe they aren’t used to people lingering. I tell her I am just looking and she seems unconvinced but does step away. There are bags of herbs like mugwort, marshmellow root and elderberry. It is next to the tea pots and strainers so I assume for making tea. I shake the bags to see how much is in each and then see one for arnica. I think that maybe I will get some of this as my neck has been bothering me. I question the safety of arnica tea as I ask the woman, “Isn’t Arnica toxic if ingested?” Whimsically she says yes. Her colleague who is slightly hidden says quickly that it is safe as a tincture and can be used this way in very small dosages. I gasp silently that I could have bought this and accidentally poisoned myself drinking liberally as a tea. Making a potion too strong for ingestion. I wonder how many other people passing by could have made this same mistake?
Quickly I move away and go to the essential oil section and the flower essence one. Picking up and looking at each one. I check out the herbs and then feel a silent pressure from the girls that maybe it is time to move on. I get the sense that lingering customers are considered an oddity and their space is coveted as privately their own. The girl with the searching eyes and the ungrounded presence comes to the register and she is patient as I look at the cacao bars and the rose hip chocolate with dates as sugar. I am debating which one to get for myself and Mica. My neighbor whose birthday is at the end of the month. I decide to get the Rose hip one for me and the other for Mica both bars are vegan. (Mica has reluctantly given up dairy recently on the suggestion of her chiropractor.) I have put together a few goodies for Mica and feel less guilt about purchasing the bar for myself. The girl and I chat for a few minutes. She asks if I am local. (Are you in the inner circle of Asheville or an outsider the question implies, even though most of us have started out as tourists and they are the ones who sustains the viability of this town.) She is in school studying and searching for her purpose.
I intuitively see a cloud of a man hovering over her and his presence has an ominous quality. I have just told her that I am a nurse so don’t want to give her the sense I am too out there but cannot resist the urge to ask—“is there someone in your life?” She needs for me to repeat the question. “a man?” I ask. She seems slightly daunted by my question as she answers that yes, they just met when she was in Hawaii. He came back with her to Asheville. Their relationship is platonic but it’s moving to something else, she thinks. I pause and reflect if I should let it go and not speak. I get the sense that he isn’t leaving soon and she might be even more lost without him but at the same time…she speaks for me and says, “I need to pay attention.” I tell her yes with silent emphasis, this is it. I stare into her dreamy eyes and say, “Yes, pay attention.” She hears me and smiles. I back out of the store. She asks, “What is your name?” Her reply to mine is “Lucy.” I bow to her slightly as I say, “nice to meet you, Lucy.”
July 2015 Asheville & Durham, NC
Running is getting easier. Easier in that I can lose myself in my run. I can run and run and not think, ‘I am running.’ But about other things instead. I haven’t gotten the runner’s high yet and it’s still hard as hell but I am getting there. I signed up for another 5k next weekend. Looking forward to it. Looking forward to life these days and loving my free time. Carpe Diem. This weekend I go Suzanne’s Astanga class. Well I had planned on her class but she isn’t teaching, instead there is a visiting teacher by ‘invitation only’.
I emailed her and she said. “Yes. You come.” I went to the workshop with the visiting Astangi who was willing to give up the donation money to a charity for dogs. Suzanne acted like she didn’t know me when I get there. (Jeez, yogis can be flaky) but she plopped her dog and self next to me so I guess I wasn’t that foreign.) The visiting yogi was a tall youthful fellow no more than 40 years old but more likely in his early 30’s.
He had a quiet presence about him, not comtemplative, just focused. He remembered my name and everyone else’s after only hearing it once. His hair short and blonde and his outfit more athletic than yogic. The practice started after an hour of chanting (which I wasn’t there for) and as we got going I realized that everyone was pretty advanced. In the second or third Sun A he came over to me and said, “What’s your hurry? Trying to get to breakfast?” I guess I had better slow down was my first thought, my second was that was pretty funny and embarrassing. The practice was an hour and 30 minutes which even included part of the second series. Everyone was dropping back into kapatasana like pros. Wow. I am usually one of the few that can do that but everyone was dropping back like it was nothing. He told the girl next to me that she should be practicing with master teacher so and so, she was that skilled. She seemed very surprised and asked him, “me?” Yes, you. He said firmly as he walked away. I left feeling good at the end of the practice, my hair wet from the natural heat and exertion. I was very sore the next day though.
Author: A wife, mom, daughter, Sister, friend, Gaia/grandmother, nurse and someone with a few words to say..
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