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Yours Truly, Eeyore

Something I read once says that each of us can find ourselves in one (or maybe more) of the characters in the Winnie the Pooh stories. For instance, Eeyore with a dash of Rabbit and a smidgen of Owl feels like a decent description of myself. (In other words, sadsack with a penchant for agendas and a bit of a know-it-all.) But those three characters are loved in the Hundred-Acre-Wood, and the stories wouldn’t be the same without them. It takes a village, and all that . . .

I was sifting through some past morning pages (I try – key word is TRY – to write a little bit every morning), and found the following few paragraphs. I think this is what was in my mind when I wrote the poem I published in the last post:

I’d like to write bright shiny things, because I want to have bright shiny things to show to other people. Bright shiny songs to pull out of my back pocket. Bright shiny blog posts to bring smiles and good vibes. Bright shiny everything so I stop looking sad and depressed.

But in truth, I am sad and depressed. Not clinically, not chronically, just characteristically on a consistent basis. When I am smiling or laughing, it’s real. But when I’m not, that’s real too. I’m sorry, but I’m one of “those people” – whose mind says, “what for?” when her heart says, “let’s dance!” Who loves a good starry night, a brilliant sunset, but feels the chill of dark matter and endless space out there beyond the atmosphere. Who sees the transcendent qualities in her fellow humans and herself, even as she sees great apes dressed up in finery, bodies destined for decay.

What I’m learning is to let the mind be what it will, but not to let it rule me. My heart, which knows in different ways, also has bad days, but they don’t always coincide with my mind’s bad days.

And my body, in which heart and mind experience life, has the best record for good days. It’s my eyes, my skin, my ears and nose and tongue that find delight without needing explanations, without needing a context of future and meaning to enjoy the life coursing through my body every moment.

Which Pooh character (or characters) are you? And do you notice harmony and disharmony in your own experience of body, mind and heart? 

Heart Embraces Mind

I am lying beside him in the dark
he is touching my arm in his sleep
my mind lies fretfully, spinning visions round
my heart – locked in my chest and forced to watch:
………..him, old, forgetful, needing me to help him through the day
………..in ways I haven’t helped anyone since our babies.
This is coming
mind whispers to heart
brace yourself.

This after a sumer Sunday spent with the children
………..she the preteen, filling out her jeans
………..dancing to pop music in the kitchen
………..he burning the last layers of baby fat
………..making jokes that make me laugh.
They are leaving
mind whispers to heart
brace yourself.

And I.Me.Myself
delicately
mind attempts in soothing tones to comfort heart:
I (including you – so we – who make me, myself) am dying,
but I will help you (so we, so me) brace my self.

Then heart
like a mother past ruffling
smiles a sunrise
touches the arm of mind
intones her lullaby:
I will not brace.
I will breathe
like I did yesterday
this morning
and a moment ago.
I (including you – so we – who make me, myself)
am living,

and I will help you (so we, so me)
embrace my life.

Now sleep.
Morning will come
As (you know and I believe)
It always does.

All Shall Be Well

My latest video has been a joyfully collaborative effort.

The words are taken from the book Revelations of Divine Love, by Julian of Norwich, 14th-century English mystic.

The images are the attentive and skillful work of Kristen Kopp. I left southern Minnesota for the outspoken beauty of Colorado, but Kristen’s photographic impressions of my prairie home do gorgeous justice to the whispering wonder of that place. Treat your eyes and your soul to more of her work here: http://instagram.com/kristenannakopp

While I wrote the music and made a simple recording with acoustic guitar and vocals, my best-beloved, Nathan Bloom, sculpted the audio tracks into a fascinating aural landscape.

Deepest thanks to Julian, Kristen and Nathan for sharing your own unique vista on the world with me in producing this video!

Lots of things can inspire people to push to a new level.

You can see someone else do something amazing, and start to wonder what you may be capable of. For example, watching the Olympics. Or this guy. Or the last moments of last night’s Super Bowl!

You might have a drill sergeant or a coach or teacher or boss who yells and punishes and demeans you to draw those hidden reserves of strength from you. It works for some people, some of the time.

Or, as I poignantly discovered yesterday, love might do it. Love and joy and a bit of parental pride too.

silasrunThis kid, if he were your kid, might inspire you to do something you didn’t think you could. Maybe you have one like him. Or maybe you love someone else as fiercely as I love this kid, and then you might also know what I’m talking about.

In this photo, my son is a few years younger, but he’s doing the same thing he’s been doing every day, almost since he first balanced on those two legs. He’s running. Back and forth, lap after lap after lap. Muttering and shouting to himself, jumping, waving arms now and then, the star of the story in his head, pounding out the joyful rhythm of life coursing through his veins.

On Saturday, Silas toured the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, and the athletes and stories he encountered inspired him to start his own training. On Sunday, he announced that he would run around the block 20 times. Nathan went with him, and used his phone’s Strava app to track it.

Ten laps around the block, and Nathan was done. They had gone 2.5 miles at an average pace of 9:38 per mile. But Silas wanted more! He had said 20 and he meant to do it. So I said I’d go.

Six and a half years ago, I decided it was time to get back in shape, and so I started running. My first accomplishment was running one mile without stopping. Over the years, I pushed until I was regularly going on ten-mile runs, and my average pace peaked at (or dove to?) around 9:30 per mile (which is nothing special, but for recreational running, respectable enough).

Then we moved to Colorado, where the air is thinner, which makes running harder – and since we’ve moved here, I’ve never run further than six miles at a time, or at a pace much less than 10 minutes per mile. Lately, I’ve been averaging closer to 11-minute miles, and hardly running more than two miles at a time.

Which, of course, is fine. Even great, relatively speaking. And I’ve been content with that.

But then, yesterday, Silas wanted someone to run ten more laps around the block with him, and as he had already worn out his dad (who, to be clear, is in great shape but just not much of a runner), it appeared to be my turn.

Knowing that just two days before I had eked out two 11-minute miles, and that Silas had just rocked two-plus miles at a pace of more than a minute per mile less than that, I wondered how this might go. But, he had just run two miles, and I was coming in fresh, so maybe these next ten laps would go a bit slower.

I brought my phone so we could track our pace on my Strava app. Since Silas didn’t have a good way to carry it securely while he ran, he emphasized that I needed to keep up with him so he could get an accurate reading of his pace.

I said I would.

And we were off.

The kid showed no signs of slowing down.

“Pace yourself, now, Silas! Remember you’ve got to keep running for ten laps! And you’ve already done ten so you may be tired.”

“I know, Mom. I’m fine!”

“Great!” But I wasn’t so sure about myself. Legs felt fine. It was the lungs that protested. I concentrated on breathing, and keeping up with Silas.

We counted the laps as we passed our house. “One!” I panted.

“Nine more to go!” Silas joyfully shouted.

Help! my mind screamed.

We made it to four.

“Only six more now!” piped the happy little athlete.

Six more! But we hadn’t even run six yet. We had run four, and we were going fast, and I was breathing hard. When we had actually gotten to six, we would still have four more – as much as we had just run – still to run! How was I going to manage?

“Are you getting tired, Mom?” Silas asked as we turned a corner and I began to breathe especially hard.

“Not really, just having a little trouble breathing! How are you doing?”

“Great!” chirruped the cherub.

“Awesome!” cheered the panting mother.

We ran, and counted, and ran, and talked a bit.

And then, somehow, we were at nine. One left! I could do anything now!

And we did. We sprinted for the finish, and I stopped the app and insisted we walk just a bit to cool down, and when those ten laps were complete, my phone told me we had just run 2.5 miles at an average pace of 8:54 per minute.

Even in the flatlands, even on short runs, I rarely saw the number 8 for a minute-marker in my average pace.

My boy had just run five miles in a little over 45 minutes, on a whim, in the mile-high Colorado atmosphere.

And, probably more remarkably, he pushed his mother to shave two minutes off her average pace – not with inspiring platitudes, not with barks or insults – but with something much more powerful.

He did it by tapping into the love I have for him, and sharing his absolute joy of running with me.

This morning, still basking in the glow of yesterday’s achievement, I went out on my own and ran an 8-minute mile, and another 10-minute one to finish out a daily run.

I didn’t know I could do that, not before yesterday, not before I ran with Silas.

Who knows how serious Silas will be about continuing his “training”? I hope we can keep it up together for a while at least.

But whatever the case, and far beyond the realm of running, I learned something deeply important yesterday – that if you want to break through to a new level in anything, or help someone else do so, love and joy might just be the ultimate motivators.

Yesterday I was equally struck by two seemingly opposing ideas from different sources. One challenged me to blow off the limits life has imposed on me; and the other, to deliberately impose limits on my life.

The first was the latest This American Life podcast, actually an introduction of a new podcast called Invisibilia. The episode – “Batman” –  is about a now-middle-aged-man named Daniel who has been blind from childhood, who hikes, bikes, and climbs trees. He can do these things, he and his mother explain, because from the time he was small, she allowed him to explore the world free from the typical limits one might expect a mother to put on her blind son. Sure, he had his share of accidents and crashes, but by challenging the limits society placed on him as a blind person, he grew capable and resilient.

The second was a Zen Habits blog post by Leo Babauta, “In Praise of Limits.” In our consumer society, the abundance of choices available to us every day can be overwhelming, Babauta writes. Purposely limiting ourselves – imposing rules such as only eating during certain hours of the day, only spending an allotted amount of time per day online – can actually make our lives richer and fuller.

Blow off the limits and exceed your own and everyone else’s expectations. Impose limits so that you can live a focused, purposeful life. Both/and. The skill comes in identifying which limits are keeping you down, and what other limits might help set you free.

Baby of Bethlehem

I wrote this song in 2008, but it never felt finished until I rewrote the last verse yesterday. Peace to you and yours, to neighbors and strangers, allies and enemies, to all of us everywhere.

Lyrics:

Belfast and Belgrade, Beirut and Beijing

Baghdad and Bosnia filled with broken things

Tanks plow the streets

Bombs sown like strange seeds

Give them the baby of Bethlehem

 

El Salvador, Saigon, Sudan and Syria

Sierra Leone and Somalia are weary of

Fat cats and their dogfights

Nightmares in broad daylight

Give them the baby of Bethlehem

 

No crying he makes, no death or disease

What child is this who’s broken to be our peace?

 

Littleton, Newtown, Facebook and Hollywood

Pine Ridge and Ferguson and Bedford-Stuyvesant

We’re scared and suspicious,

Anonymously vicious

Give us the baby of Bethlehem

Julia Bloom:

Here’s our family’s annual holiday video song! Wishing you peace and joy this holiday and in the new year.

Originally posted on Cabin of Love:

Season’s greetings from our lovin’ family!

View original

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