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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.

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“Yoga is about the journey.” My yoga instructor said that the other day and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. Life is also about the journey, the process. It’s not the destination but the journey—is the common saying, cliché, but accurate. I’m realizing that this idea works in many aspects of my life: my writing, my exercise program, my job hunt. It’s easy to forget and start trying to control every step of the way, worrying about the outcome.

I’ve had a writing breakthrough—I am moving, whether it’s right or wrong, I’m moving in some direction. I am writing. This is the journey. It may work into something. Many things in my life have come about this way. A few years ago, I wrote some community plays and this led to helping a middle school teacher with her class theatre projects. That community service led to teaching a summer youth program drama workshop, and the semester after that, I taught Theatre Appreciation at a community college. Based on that experience, I was asked to teach drama to High School students last summer and direct their play at the end of the term. I don’t have a degree in theatre or dramatic writing (although I do write fiction and have read a ton of plays), but I just started writing plays and performing and directing them (they were understandably amateurish but I got better each time and people think I have a knack for it).

Now, this won’t get me a faculty position  in a university theatre program—although, who knows, stranger things have happened. I’ve been paid to direct theatre now for three semesters without a degree in theatre. All because I just started doing what I loved. If you’d told me this would happen, I would not have believed you. To be completely honest, however, I have a hard time believing that if I follow my bliss with writing something just as great will happen. That doors will open. I’m trying right now to hang on to this. To remember that writing is a journey, not a destination, even though I want to reach a destination, I admit. I believe that destination is some talk show—David Letterman? Oprah? The Today Show? Me being interviewed about my book. That is the destination that I have in mind. The reality is that I will most likely never make it there. I may make it somewhere similar, or for another reason. I can’t think about that, it takes the joy out of creating for me. I need to create. So one day at a time, create. That is the journey. Perhaps I’m thinking about my job hunt/career change all wrong. It’s a journey as well. I’m not going to just land on some shore of employment and think Ahhh, I’ve made it. This is where I’ve been headed all along. Where I am now is part of my journey, not a mistake, and I don’t know where I will arrive next. It’s not about arriving though, that’s what I need to get into my awareness, it’s about being where I am. I saw a magnet on someone’s refrigerator recently that read: “I’d rather be here.” Here is all I have. I might as well make the most of it.

I only ran 22:16 today. It took a long time for my muscles to warm up. The temperature was lower than it has been all summer. It’s the middle of September, right on schedule. I actually meant to stop at 20:00—just a short run today, but I forgot. I hadn’t set my egg-timer (I carry an egg timer that fits nicely in my pocket with huge numbers. I’ll talk moer about this later). It was in my pocket, and I glanced at it, saw I had about three more minutes and I planned to run to the intersection and ran right through it without any thought of stopping. I just ran almost all the way home before I remembered I was going to stop back there. Sometimes, it’s easier to keep running than it is to stop. I noticed that when I was doing my “training (run three minutes, walk one minute, etc.), I got to about five or seven minutes and I didn’t want to stop for my minute walk, it was almost easier just to keep going. But, that wasn’t the point. I stuck to the plan, did it right and eventually got up to where I am now, able to run 35-40 minutes straight.

I could have gone longer today, but my calf was hurting (on the inside, left leg).  My right knee was complaining a bit too. Then my gut was talking to me. Too much coffee this morning, ate that yogurt too close to running—yeah, some days it’s like that—my body just won’t leave me alone. ‘What the hell?” it says as soon as I start out. “What are you doing? This is just wrong!” Okay, that was this morning and I don’t know why, because I did yoga yesterday. I should be flexible; my muscles should be stretched, warm. I ran the day before—35 minutes or so. Maybe I really didn’t stretch enough this morning. I just did a few cursory stretches, calves mostly, and then left—and it was cold. I may need to invest in some running pants.

While running I had a thought, it had to do with the journey—running being about the journey—because each day is a new day. You never reach the end and say, “well, I’ve run enough.” Even someone who runs marathons, who runs those crazy 60-mile things, can never be done. They stop running altogether and after a while, they’ll go back to flab, their muscles will atrophy, they’ll lose what they’ve built up. So yeah, you have to keep doing it. I ran a lot last week does not make me fit this week; I have to run a lot this week also to be fit. I’m not sure this is having the inspirational effect on me that I thought it would. It’s a little depressing…geez. But, here we go—here’s the upside—I keep doing it regularly, and it does build on the work I did before. I keep getting firmer, stronger, my stamina is greater each time. I wonder sometimes if I’m doing the right thing for my body now. Do I need to push more, have another goal? I don’t have a running goal right now. Just keep it up—that’s my current goal. Three times a week, at least. And I’ve added yoga and biking, I think I just want to see how the three work together for a while. Trust the process. (September 14, 2010)

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