Seasons of change

They’re both gone.

My dad’s mom had a heart attack on Mother’s Day, and died that afternoon.

My mom’s mom had a stroke a few weeks later. She passed away just before Father’s Day.

One grandmother I didn’t know well; the other, raised me when I was little. On my refrigerator, there’s a picture of my mom’s mom and me on the edge of her bed, her with a smile, and me sucking my thumb. Why, I’ll never know. 

There are scenes from that week at home after my granny died. The wheelchair ramp that was over the stairs, now in pieces in the yard. The steady stream of family and friends visiting, with food in hand. The visitation at the funeral home, with my grandmother lying there in her casket, finally at rest from a life well-lived. The prayer circle in her yard the morning of her funeral.  The heat of that day. Seeing family I hadn’t see in ages. The crying. The moment in the church when they closed the casket, the last time we would see her face.

The deaths made me look at some things differently. My job, my life, my friends, my family. What’s important now? What’s not? It re-enforced the notion that nothing is permanent. Everything changes and evolves. We can’t fight that, as frightening as it is. If we fight change, we suffer. We have to roll with the tides of change…

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My mom’s mom was quiet, determined, independent and caring. Those are things that she gave me. And I hope that I can keep cultivating them. 

Back on the good foot

Yep, it’s been a while, so it’s time to get back at. 
 
I feel guilty about not doing it (like I do now). It continues to occupy my head in a way that, frankly shocks me. I don’t thing I’ve ever done anything that hurts so much while I’m doing it, and feels so good after I’m done.
 
I’m still running. As much as it can hurt, I’m still on the treadmill and the road. All winter, I ran at least twice a week, prepping for a stretch of runs in the spring and hoping that I could improve on the slack-ass run I had on New Year’s Day. A 5k, an 8k and a 5k later, I’d say it’s mission accomplished. The first run, on a cold and damp day, saw me finish about a minute faster than my very first run last summer. Given that I hate running in that stuff (it’s chilly, and cold weather make strenuous activity that much harder for me), I was pleasantly surprised. 
 
Next up was the 8k, a distance I’d only completed in practice runs–a couple of weeks before. Race weather was a little bit of a shock–nippy 50s at the start, but 60s at the finish. And this was the best race I’ve been so far–6,000 or so at the start. With these runs, I try to run the first mile completely, then run-walk the rest of the way. Imagine my surprise when I felt fresh enough to go almost a mile and a half without stopping. Don’t knock it–I was still moving. 
 
I was slogging toward the finish as the two top finishers in the half-marathon blew past me (I know one of those guys). As cresting the hill toward the line, I could hear the crowd, and that gave me a little boost to make it. I have to say, it felt great to hear my name from the MC as I crossed the finish–in under an hour. As with many of these runs, you get a medal. It makes me glad to have run the 8 and not the half–the 8K medal was a helluva lot better.
 
On to the next run, this time, in my hometown. It felt wonderful to walk back in to my hometown school, see folks I hadn’t seen in decades, and run a 5k for the school’s bands. The one advantage I had over the other races was that I grew up in this place and knew the roads and streets. 
 
The morning was sunny and warmer that I thought–I didn’t need the running tights I had on. The run started, and I slogged to the first mile. It was a small field (lots of little kids, though), so the runners were strung out a bit, a little more alone on the course than I’ve been used to. But rounding a corner and hitting one of the main streets, the energy came back. My strategy was to run two blocks and walk one. And it worked–I hit a PR. Home cooking tastes good.
 
And so, this Sunday, on a bit of a lark, I’m running another 5k. The races help me train toward a goal–like being part of a triathlon relay team in mid-July. Running feels like jazz felt when I was in my early 20s–something I can do and keep up with for a very long time. I’ll have about two months between races, so I have to–sorry, want to–keep training, eventually hitting a duathlon and then, by this time next year…a half-marathon. That’s my moonshot–that’s the one I want to complete. 

 

To the time machine…

From my scattered writings…

6/24/12

this dating thing is really a grind, a bore. it truly is. i went out on a date the other night, and it was fine, ok. no sparks, but it was nice to go out with someone who’s really still a stranger. i often wonder what is wrong with me in terms of this dating thing…am i overthinking things, or what. friends say that i should show some more vulnurability. like some of the vulnerability that i show to them. it just takes me time to open up. 

but i’m bored of the process. i dated a woman at the beginning of the year. two dates, that’s all. she was a lawyer, attractive, funny, but we really didn’t connect. probably because i felt, in the middle of that second date, that the process was dull, to the point of stultifying. the dating routine for me is ritual. go to a site, see someone you’re interested in, email them, then hope they return that email. or, what’s more likely for me, have someone reach out to me. then you trade emails, looking for some connection. then a phone call or two (note: if you’re quiet, hoping for me to hold up a conversation, that will be a long call). then the working of the schedules to find the right night for a date. and then, the big night. pick the right time, the right restaurant, the right wine. it’s really a performance. i have to be a performer. that’s not to say i’m lying as i’m on the date, but there’s a part of me that has to come out, another side of me, that i don’t bring out often. and sometimes, that performance is tiring, and i sometimes wonder why, in the middle of the date, i’m there. to combat some fake loneliness? to be social acceptable? what? why?

i’m not saying that i don’t ever want a life partner. and i’m not saying that i’m stopping trying. it’s like a combination lock–there’s a combination that someone unlocks that gets me open. and that’s only happened twice in my life.

 i’m lucky to have a few close friends. i don’t want many–i want good ones.

 self-examination is a tough thing. in the job-changing process i’m going through, it feels like some scales are falling away from me. self-examination is not a bad thing for me, or for anyone.

**********

9/22/13

here i am again, bored of dating and bored of the process. just once, it would be nice to have a woman just fall into my lap, without having to leap through the requisite hoops. won’t happen, so what to do? keep trying, but remember something–you’re fine. you’re ok as you are.

**********

2/28/14

i’ve put myself on a dating moratorium. no more dates for a couple of months. it seems like that’s all i’ve been doing for 14 or 15 months, with varying degrees of success. and in that time, it feels like i’ve lost some sense of me, of who i am. in brussels, talking to my old girlfriend, she said the notion of having to date sounded awful. and recently, I read a story on how the French and the Americans differed when it came to sex and love, and a young French woman also thought the idea of dating sounded dreadful. and for me right now, it is. It’s very set-piece like, with an unofficial checklist and boxes that must be ticked. and both parties are on their best behavior. The very anthesis of humanity. I think the thing I hate about dating is that being me, may not get me a second or third date. I’m quiet, a little awkward, very observant, willing to listen. i’m a little standoffish, and may not always be willing to make the first move (yes, even at my advanced age). Dating sometimes feels like a test, and I don’t always pass it the first time around. So, for a couple of months, I’m not taking the test. 

**********

I’m noticing a theme here…

I’ve been toying around with the idea of rewriting my OKCupid profile, to better reflect reality, to better reflect me. This has given me some incentive, especially this passage.

We all are flawed and have been broken. But, too often, we date people on a surface level so we can tiptoe around that seamier part of ourselves. We don’t let our core flaws show, and try to hide them, or purposefully suppress them for fear of our partner judging or rejecting us. We are even willing to fight to deflect them.

The fact of the matter is, eventually we realize that lying is lying, whether it’s to ourselves or to our partner, and nothing good will come from a relationship that’s built on suppressed truth. We begin to see it’s about letting it all hang out.

This is something that I’ve been fighting for for a while–or to put it a better way, something that I know. The goal is to be fully human, flaws and all. I know my flaws, and I’m always working to improve them. They come with me everywhere.

Even at that nice restaurant at night, across from that attractive woman.

TFTD

For there to be true intimacy, you must begin with the process of truly knowing, understanding and falling “in love” with yourself. A healthy sex life cannot rely solely on your partner, it must begin with you and the relationship you have with yourself.

- from a Huffington Post story, The Search for Intimacy

Reborn–again?

It was 10 years ago that I was laid off from my job in Brussels. The time was sad and uncertain–I was looking for work, and was fairly sure I had to leave a city I loved to do it. But the previous three years for me were a rebirth. It wasn’t that i was running away from anything, but I think I had to hit the reset button. A couple of relationships were meh or emotionally draining, and being in my late 20s, I was still trying to figure things out. And Brussels seemed like it would be an adventure. I remember the fridays and saturdays I spent wandering the city, walking down blocks I knew nothing about, until they became familiar pieces of a puzzle. I remember sitting in a cafe, marveling over the wonder of drinking coffee from a cup (a rarity in brussels a decade ago). The nights wandering back home after some jazz. What has changed in the ten years? I’ve been captured by thre hamster wheel of work. In Brussels, the formula would be to go, have an adventure, then oh-by-the-way, go to work. Here, it’s work, then try to squeeze something in–if I’m not too tired. But I’m slowly waking up. I’m running, entering 5Ks. There’s traveling on the agenda that does not include going home. I’ve re-realized that my happiness depends on me. The invisible weights that seem to find their way to my shoulders are disappearing. It’s becoming time to live again.

TFTD

This is awesome, and Chris Hadfield is awesome. Thank you, Canada.

If you view crossing the finish line as the measure of your life, you’re setting yourself up for a personal disaster. … You need to honor the highs and the peaks in the moments — you need to prepare your life for them — but recognize the fact that the preparation for those moments is your life and, in fact, that’s the richness of your life. … The challenge that we set for each other, and the way that we shape ourselves to rise to that challenge, is life.

Explore – If you view crossing the finish line as the….

Back on the good foot

Most sensible people would spend New Year’s morning nursing a well-earned hangover. I was suiting up to run a 5K in the cold. It was the fourth run I’ve done, and the worst one, in terms of the weather (below freezing) and time (a shade over 40 minutes). But the sweatshirt you get for registering was worth it. 

This running thing is becoming a test of will now. Running is not comfortable for me–I can run a mile nonstop, but it can be a struggle, especially in the winter. It can be painful for my knees. It can get boring–there’s no way I can run more than five miles, lest I lose interest. If I were faster, I wouldn’t worry about my attention being held. 

It’s a struggle–getting up, getting dressed, huffing and puffing, wondering why I do this. 

Why I’m doing this, isn’t just for the physical payoff. It seems like the mental challenge is the biggest hill to climb. I told a friend that I want to be an “international man of leisure.” This running is as far away from that as you can get from that. While I like being on my bike, that takes little effort–it’s natural. The running isn’t; it feels like a Rube Goldberg-like process to get out the door. 

And yet…I got out of the bed and out the door this morning. What running is doing is pushing me to be in places in my head that I haven’t been before. Even though my time on New Year’s wasn’t great, the sense of accomplishment was still there. 

There’s always a lesson to be learned, and it’s  to prepare. I wasn’t ready to run the last one (six miles on the bike the week before doesn’t count). So this winter, I’ll be on the treadmill, running twice a week. It’s not much, but it’s a restart. I’ve got runs coming in the spring–I want to run a little better for those.