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I’m choosing writing over dust bunnies, over putting on make-up, if it comes down to it. I’ve set my egg timer for twenty-one minutes and I’m going to write, then I’ll get ready for work. I’m sitting here at the computer in a damp sports bra and running shoes. I did take my cap and sunglasses off, but I just came in the door after stretching and cooling down. I wish I could tape-record my thoughts while running. There’s so much I think about and it all seems terribly deep and ponderous; I’m sure everyone would be awed at the wisdom and inspiration that springs to mind as I’m running. Maybe it has something to do with endorphins.

My morning routine these days: I get to the computer as fast as I can; after cooling down a bit; changing into something dry (usually); grabbing breakfast and a cup of coffee. Today, I’m eating steel cut oatmeal (already made but heated up in the microwave) with raisins and walnuts and some almond milk that I’m trying out (good stuff, low in calories, non-dairy). I want to write about everything—nutrition, because running has been changing the way I eat (except for those cookies I still find ways to slip in), and the path—the actual terrain I run on—(that one sounds deeply metaphorical, may have to go with it), and the people who block my path as I run.

People who block my path: Today it was a woman walking her dog on the trail in Hyder Park. It amazes me how people won’t get out of the way, won’t move (some of them). Of course, who am I to think they should move out of the trail and let me stay on it? I suppose I feel more significant somehow because, after all, I’m running. I am the one really exercising here—the one with purpose—look at me puffing away, you can see I’ve been running for a while and I’m very serious about the business of running, so get out of my way. After all, you are only walking your dog. Your dog does not need a trail.

Wow! Didn’t know that was in there.

It’s funny, some of the things people do. Some do move aside, other runners mostly. Runners seem to be aware of each other, glance when we pass one another; a look that suggests, “I’ll move over” and a nod to says, “thanks.” Runners are such nice people. Then there are the people with headphones, (runners and walkers) who don’t even know you are there and you just have to dart around. That’s a different breed entirely.

 People who get in my way, hmm; I thought I would write about one thing, but another is coming up. Maybe they aren’t in my way, maybe they just are. Maybe my path is supposed to go around them, into the grass, off the dirt trail, that is my path, the one that goes around. That’s a very Buddhist sounding idea; it makes me think of water. Water flowing around the rock, instead of complaining that the rock is in the way. I suppose I want the easiest path, nothing blocking me, no rocks to go around. I definitely have to think about this some more. Think of myself as water, or the journey as one that’s fluid and meanders here and there around obstacles. I think “obstacle” isn’t really the right word, either. Is a rock an obstacle to water when water can easily move around it? Aren’t there meditations on this, water flowing around rock for years, shaping it over time?

 My egg timer just went off: I have to shower and go meet eighteen different obstacles to my serenity today. Not a good attitude; I know. Maybe I need to see them as something that changes me while I change them, the exchange of energy, flowing around them, breaking off bits of old ideas and shaping their little minds (still not there yet).  Today, I will be water and obstacles in my way are rocks in a riverbed; I will flow around them like water. I am water. (Or am I the rock? I’m getting confused.) They can’t ruin my day by being there, they just are.

I flow.

Reality. Boy, this is a hard one. I don’t know if I want to talk about it right now. Mostly, I’m trying to deal with the pain in my knees. I don’t know if biking exacerbated it, it surely feels that way. It’s disappointing because I want to bike to work. It beats driving to the university and trying to park; it’s stressful and it’s expensive. Plus, it ends up taking a lot of time. Reality is: I need to stop writing and grade papers. I need to work on a lesson plan for tomorrow. I need to, I need to….

This (writing) is not reality. This is something else (playing, fooling around, procrastinating comes to mind). Society, my mother, that voice that tells me I’m not being practical–that’s what I’m hearing. I’m wasting time by writing. Reality, for me lately, has been all about finding a better job: a real job—with benefits. A career. The kind of job that a woman my age should have. That a person with my advanced degree should have. It’s not that I don’t like teaching. I’ve been an adjunct for a few years, but there doesn’t seem to be a way out. It’s part-time (even though I teach four classes) and it’s temporary (I have to renew a contract each semester) and it doesn’t offer benefits. So, reality is biting me in the arse. I’ve been looking for other work, but the reality of it is, we are in an economic crisis, jobs are scarce, and I don’t have a very good employment background because I wasted all those years living a “unconventional” lifestyle. (Dropping out is easy; it’s dropping “in” that’s hard.)

There you have it: reality bites.

Anyhow, I can’t escape it, so I am attempting to face it. This is going to be the hardest part to write about: facing 50 with limited options. This I know many of you can relate to. How do we deal with this? I’m writing about it. I know I need to work on my job hunting skills, my interviewing skills (I want to slit my wrists just thinking about this). Not so inspiring as the running bit, is it? Well, that’s reality for you. But (to put a positive spin on it and try to yank my mood back from the depths) if I can start running at 48 and finish three 5Ks in five months time and run for 40 minutes straight (which I did do two or three times) then maybe something I don’t see happening will occur.

I don’t know what’s around the bend. Maybe, just maybe, I can do something I never thought I could do in the employment arena. I’ve heard that I’m good at organizing, at seeing the big picture, at paying attention to detail, I’m creative, I’m a good communicator…hey! I could be a writer! All right, I’ll behave. That was a little sarcastic, I admit. Well, I’m working at that job, waiting to get paid, and trying to be open-minded about the job market. What can I do that I’ve never thought of before? (This one takes everything I’ve got.) I’d rather run uphill for thirty minutes straight, on trash day, during rush hour.  This is turning out to be an exercise in motivation. I’m learning to motivate myself, in running, and I suppose I can apply it to this enterprise as well. Snapping teeth are great motivators!

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