How do we slow down?

Do you ever have those days where you are just pooped? You start yawning at the end of the day and you do not know why? You got a good night sleep (and in my case Chris said I must have slept well because I was not talking in my sleep all night). Yet, somehow you just have no energy whatsoever. I know for me it is often because there are too many items on my to-do list, there are too many things I want and need to do.

There are countless articles, blogs, and videos on the Internet that talk to us about how to slow down, how to prioritize our lives, and how to say no. So if it were so easy, why is it hard for so many of us? I have blogged a few times about wanting to suck the life out of my days. I like to get shit done, but does my relentless nature come at a cost? I hate the days when I am too pooped to run, or when Chris talks me out of a routine that I love (he likes me to have a down day from exercise at least once a week).

Take Monday night for example. It was 80 degrees and sunny and Portland and Chris encouraged me to sit outside with him after work and just enjoy the sun and warmth. It was hard for me to resist, because who knows how long it will be until we have another similar gorgeous day? Yet, even while sitting there enjoying the moment I kept thinking, “I want to go for a run, I want to go for a run.” Why? Why do I drive myself crazy about breaking a routine?

Then last night I was physically and mentally exhausted, so I tried to take a nap after work and I could not get warm and could not fall asleep. Again, no run and it drove me crazy. Part of it for me is I love the euphoria and feeling after a long hard run. I am dripping in sweat and I feel like I truly did something 100% for me and no one else. How much of our day is ever 100% for us? What causes the mental roller coaster for what we want (or think we want) and the choices we make?

I know none of these ideas are new, but the struggle is that sometimes there is so much on our plates that often what gets removed are the things that matter to us most. The things that ground us and keep us going. I know these past few days are anomalies for me. I am relentless and will duke it out with Chris so I can run and catch up on a book, but maybe that is not true for everyone. Maybe it is taking 15 minutes to meditate, or even for those of you with young kids having a long hot shower, and going to the bathroom solo. How do we slow down and make better choices?

Boston Marathon admiration

It is hard to believe that my day yesterday was so crazy that I missed the entire Boston Marathon coverage. After living in Boston for 4 years, I got addicted to the camaraderie and dedication of Bostonians for those running the marathon. In Boston they have an entire holiday (Patriots Day) where you actually get paid to take the day off and if you feel so inspired go and watch the marathon. Of course Patriot’s Day has nothing to do with the Boston Marathon, but it does have a nice way of working out for Bostonians. We did it a few times. If you get there early enough there are actually restaurants on Boylston Street (where the finish line is) and you can have food and drinks and sit on the sidewalk patio of a restaurant and watch the race in style. I can remember in the early days of Chris and my life together (maybe before we ever really knew where we would end up) we sat together, had brunch and watched the race.

Regardless of whether you are in Boston or not, or whether you watched the race or not, there is a charged excitement and energy around races like the Boston or New York Marathon. Just as there is with the Olympics or World Cup. These are races that show the triumph, drive, and legacy of professional and everyday runners that give it their all either year around as they train to medal in such races, or for those that are trying for their personal best. For me there is something gratifying about someone who works so hard to compete or even try to finish running 26.2 miles. When I saw that the man who placed first was just over 2 hours, I was reminded that he ran 26.2 miles in just over the time it took me to run 13.1 miles. He can run the same amount of miles in half the time that I can – AMAZING!

What inspires me about races like the Boston Marathon is the amount of hours of dedication it takes for these runners (elite or not) to prepare for such a race. Hours, days, weeks, months, maybe even a year back to last year’s race. It might mean giving up on drinks with friends, time with children or other family members. Possibly it means very early mornings to get in those long runs, or being outside in rain, snow, or sleet, or maybe if you live in a warmer climate dealing with extreme heats and dryness. Whatever the weather situation, the time of day, or the toll it takes on your body, training for a marathon is a dedication that not everyone can or wants to do. We are all capable of more than we do, but sometimes there are moments in life when we show that we can push ourselves beyond limits we never were thought were possible. There is also a kindness that other runners spread during a race – see this link for stories of how runners went above and beyond during or after the Boston Marathon.

Running is a sport like no other. This year’s race was cold and rainy. It shows how many people will come out and support you rain or shine while you spend from 2 (elite athletes) to 6 hours to finish running 26.2 miles. Dedication. Perseverance. Friendship. I admire everyone that ran Boston yesterday.

A woman on the $20 bill?

I had never really thought about it, but how come it is 2015 and there are no women on our paper currency? Seriously. This is a no brainer. I am not sure why I never really thought about it, but just with the right to vote, and have a fair wage, there should be paper currency and coins that have women on them. What kind of message does that give to young girls? Maybe they do not really notice, or maybe it is subliminal and they do not even realize they have noticed.

There is a campaign out called “Women on 20’s” that is a vote to put one of the following women on the front of the twenty-dollar bill: Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Wilma Mankiller. Their website gives background and discusses the fact that 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and women’s right to vote. I even learned something – I had not heard of Wilma Mankiller, and now know about her. It is also interesting that two of the women are black women, and one is Native American. That is progress too.

We should be giving girls and young women something to strive for — maybe instead of a woman thinking about how much money she is making she thinks more about how she can be a role model and maybe one day be ON money? Not something I have ever pined for, but why would it be such a bad goal for someone? It would be refreshing to get rid of some old, balding presidents (joking, but why not update our currency to be “current”). Nothing wrong with that, but maybe I am just thinking about the issue from the surface.

I encourage you to take some time and explore their website and vote for a woman candidate for the twenty-dollar bill.

“I do what I please.”

Sometimes others remind us of someone from our past, maybe a family member, friend, or someone who we barely knew.  This woman reminds me of my grandma (Granny Smith). She is 97 years old. My grandma was 94 when she died, and I have to say this woman not only looks amazing, but she is determined and has a spark that I think is lost in our elders. Especially her line: “I do what I please.” Often we are the ones that take that spark away.

I can remember when my brother, sister, and I had to have the conversation with my grandma that we no longer felt comfortable with her driving anymore. She was probably mostly fine, but what scared us the most was her defense mechanisms, they just were not as responsive as they were in her younger age. We feared for others on the road. Either it was because of her slower speeds, or that her car basically drove on its own. You barely had to tap the accelerator. It was a 1977 Chevy Caprice Classic, with less than 60,000 miles, which basically means she drove it about 2500 miles a year, or 48 miles a week. This was in the early 2000’s and her car was over 20 years old – and basically my age. We knew we had to have her stop driving and sell her car. A tough conversation with a woman who was extremely independent and had lived alone for the past 40 years after her husband had died.

This video reminds me how much more we can do to help those that are aging feel like they matter, that they can help others, and that as long as it is not dangerous to themselves or to others, we need to make sure they can continue to live and do the things they are capable of doing. Just remember we are all going to be old someday too, so maybe the Golden Rule needs to be applied in these cases. The video is part of a movement called: “I Like Giving.” Enjoy and be grateful for the elders in your life, the ones that can still boss you around, and those that may not be here, but have left you with memories.

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It’s not you, it’s me

We don’t always get what we want.

People come into and out of our life and sometimes we do not have a choice. At times their lives are too busy for us, or maybe we are too busy for them. Often we do not know why we no longer connect, hear from, or are a priority for others. There might not be a malicious reason, life happens, shit happens. Maybe the famous line: “It’s not you, it’s me” really is true in friendships and working relationships. I have had a few frustrating conversations over the past week and I continue to wonder, was it me, or was it them? Should I have handled things differently? Should I have been more patient, or more direct?

When we do not receive direct feedback from others, the “It’s not you, it’s me” line does not answer our questions. We might agonize over whether we have alienated someone, pissed them off, or made them feel tiny. Sometimes we will never know what we did (or did not do in a situation). Our agony is not really worth the time, especially if we never receive answers to our questions. We must move on and continue towards what is next.

There were a few individuals that I especially was looking forward to having in my life in the near future. Sometimes the roads that we think will meet are just a mirage, we dream of where they could lead, and somehow when we get closer to where we think they meet, we realize it was all just our eyes playing tricks on us. Or maybe we allowed our mind to dream and wonder where this moment in our life could take us. Whether it was not meant to be, or it was not meant to be at this moment in our life. We can be grateful for what we learned in the process. I know that sounds cliché, but really each step we take, leads us to the next opportunity that awaits us. We just might not see it clearly at first. I am having such moments. Was it me, or was it them? What I thought I would see on the other side is different from what I am seeing now. I have to clear my mind and be open for the true picture that is before me.

Definitely not easy, but maybe the true adventure is not knowing what we will see on the other side. Maybe when our imagination runs wild, we can put a picture together and even when it does not turn out like our dreams, sometimes when we wait patiently and long enough the end result is better than we can ever imagine. I am willing to wait, maybe less patiently over time, but I have seen it before and I know my imagination is sometimes not large enough for what is possible.

Keep your mind open to the possibilities.