I Ran to the Water Tower

 

Water Tower at the Island's YMCA

Water Tower at the Island’s YMCA

About 20 yards in I decided to jog. I had a cold. My chest was congested, but I needed to do something to make myself feel productive. The walking path at my local YMCA goes through the woods, and I’m a plant lover.  I’m not a runner. I’m not a jogger. I’m not even a regular walker. I just decided to do it on this sunny, cool morning. I jogged at what a pace that felt like jogging until I was panting, and then I began walking the loop which would eventually led back to my car.

My schedule didn’t allow me to get back to the ‘Y’ until Thursday. I wanted to see how far I could jog again and  decided that the Water Tower would be a good goal.
A certain type of tree was blooming. I’ve yet to identify it, but it filled the woods with a scent that reminded me of Tea Olive. It was so much more welcoming than the varied smells of the gym inside, and I was so grateful to anything that might keep me going longer.
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I reminded myself to keep my mind on what I was doing, and that called my attention to my pace. If I slowed it down just a hair, how much farther could I run? This sort of jog felt good. I wasn’t striving. I wasn’t struggling. I was just moving forward. There was so much to see, familiar friends. I smiled at the happy ferns.
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Then I listen to the rustles of brown thrashers and squirrels in the fallen leaves. I hear the cries of Blue Jays, and the steps of other runners, and who was I kidding? I was still thinking. The voice wasn’t critical. It was practical. In fact, it seemed to be the voice of my body parts versus my brain.

My feet said, “Hey, we are perfectly capable of getting you there.” Of course they were. Then I paid attention to my arms and shoulders. I twisted my torso a little more. “This isn’t hard,” they said. We can go much farther.” I liked how it felt when they broke through the hair.IMG_0518

I kept going past the pond and started toward a mild incline. This wasn’t far. I thought of women all over the world, refugees who had traveled hundreds of miles on foot. My quads spoke up. I felt them working harder now. “We were made for this,” they told me. “We’ll get you there. Don’t question it.”Then, all of the sudden I was standing right at the base of the water tower. Ten steps more and it would have been half a mile.

Today I went back and started again. I began jogging right away and passed all of the same markers with a smile on my face. It didn’t feel hard. I got to the water tower so fast, and I kept jogging. There was a bench I could have sat on, but I didn’t. I paid attention to what happened as other walkers and runners passed me.

When I first began jogging, a walker was about 50 paces in front of me. Should I pass him? The temptation was to sprint by and have the path to myself, or maybe I saw this as a polite thing to do for him. I didn’t. I kept my pace and I passed him soon enough. Then other runners would go by me, and the temptation was to pick up my pace. Why? I didn’t consciously care, but I found myself having to refocus on my speed. Keep what’s working. Pretty soon I passed my car in the parking lot, the entrance, and then I was off into the trees on the other side. When I finished the loop I’d run an entire mile.

Pace is important. Social media shows us how fast other people are going. It can make you jealous over and over. The thing about being jealous is that it concentrates your heart and soul on other people, and your own progress slows. You’re treating yourself like you’re not good enough, and you feel not good enough, not sexy enough, not in the circle. Oh, I don’t know what it is with me. I hate not being in the circle. It’s the biggest trigger for me. I try to choose different thoughts now, and even better I listen to my body instead of my mind for a time,

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Worth Work

IMG_4297 The bumblebee to the left does not feel unworthy of the pollen it needs to survive, and this carefree attitude spreads throughout the animal kingdom. Robins don’t struggle over whether they deserve the juicy worm. A lioness doesn’t stalk a choice wildebeest and then give up the chase, because she feels unworthy of dinner that night. It is only at the top of the food chain where we consider our worth before acquiring what we need. In fact, we compound the problem by evaluating ourselves and then evaluating the need itself.

Raising consciousness on the planet means that we are facing ourselves like never before, and this worth issue is being magnified like never before. It’s visible in the old and very young. Not dealing with it leads to depression, addiction, violence, and even poverty. To use a gardening term, it is a dampening off of our species. It has kept generations from reaching the fullness of their heart’s potential, but the point is not to defend or disbelieve. It is to recognize the pathogen that stunts our growth.
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Worth work begins when we identify what emotions we aren’t allowing to land. We become air traffic controllers for the sunlight, the rain, the fertilizer. Forgive me for getting out of hand with the garden metaphors. You might know the former as love, respect, validation, safety, and contentment. In our private worlds we become so efficient at gatekeeping that we do it on auto-pilot. We swat away what we need with no effort at all and without the awareness that we’re doing it.

The honest look that leads to progress gets scary. Conscious living means stepping through the muck of our own constructs. You would think when the things we need get close to us, we would relax. It would feel easy and good. Not so fast. It’s like the hands of God tearing away your root ball so you are no longer pot-bound. Do you see here how your foundation was growing in a big circle again, and again, and again?

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We don’t have to force an angst-filled upheaval to make positive changes. With a spoonful of initiative, and maybe some confiding in a good friend, we can flip a switch. We can flip the whole of our suffering right on its ass. This is possible because the construct of our worthlessness wasn’t made by other people. We made it. We planted it and watered it. Opening up to tearing it out can work wonders. You see, our constructs are not sturdy pillars. They are Twizzlers that we treat like 3,000-year-old trees. It can take a trusted pal to point out a new perspective.

My favorite part of Oh, Holy Night is the mention of the soul feeling its worth. A weary world rejoiced, because it is exhausting and binding to feel worthless. It’s easy to say, “I don’t feel worthless,” but look at your life. See where things are moving as well as you’d prefer.

I’m trying this with myself, and it’s a simple exercise that changes the feeling in your entire body. I want to be a published author, but that goal is lofty. I tell myself I don’t write fast enough. I don’t have the advances so many writers had to live from in days of yore. I tell myself if I self publish, how will I ever find the time to market it? With every proclamation I seem less worthy of being on the Best-Seller’s list. My new trick is to tell myself: You already have a best-seller. I’ve written it, and thousands and thousands of people have it on their nightstands. A strange comfort fills my heart and moves out toward my extremities.  I did it once, and I can do it again. There is no fear, and I feel worthy. I can write from this place, this consciousness, far easier than the former.

What can you tell yourself to make that shift and remove the weight of worthlessness?

  • Everybody loves me. (Even if this isn’t the case, it’s worth it to take that worry from your mind.)
  • I’ve tackled my finances.
  • I make an impact when I do what I love.
  • What I have to give the world fills a need.
  • I’m partly responsible for the respect, love, validation, gratitude, etc. I don’t feel, and that is due to what I believe and tell myself.

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A Teenage Girl In The Park

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I was at the park yesterday and got a jarring look at the angst of a teenage girl. It was shocking because she was unabashedly talking about longing for her boyfriend in front of two adults unrelated to her. There had been a grounding and consequently a week without a call from her boyfriend. She was angry that he had his friend call her and got on the phone to speak to her. She was angry that he respected her wishes when she told him not to do that anymore. It would get her in trouble. She was angry because there was a parental mandate that she couldn’t kiss him anymore. With wild pacing and hand gestures, anger turned to confusion as she explained she might be reunited with this boy for her 72 hours of good behavior. Nothing made sense. And to top it off she’d brought her big dog to the park, on a frigid day with only a light jacket, and this boy was supposed to be walking his dog. He was nowhere in sight.

One of the adults, a man, laughed and unmaliciously poked a little fun. He whispered “drama queen” under his breath, but I could see that her pain was real. I suspected that seeing this boy relieved that. He tweaked her emotions in a way which she couldn’t do for herself. He gave her self-worth.

She had lost it somewhere among her three other siblings. Her longing separated her from her family members. She was a weak link and didn’t like that about herself. There were other reasons not to like herself, but this boy didn’t see them. If he’d just bring his dog to the park on this very cold day, she’d be able to show us.

I wanted to fix it all, but I couldn’t.

“Where is he,” she whined.

“Hey,” I said trying to help, “you have years ahead of you where men disappoint you. No sense letting it all happen right now. Pace yourself. Don’t want to peak in your teens.”

She smiled and I fought the urge to grab her by the shoulders and put my forehead against hers. If there was a map in my memory that would help her avoid the pot holes, I wanted her to absorb it telepathically. I wanted to stop the train, but I looked up and she was gone. The boy had shown up and the sun was in the sky again.