exuberance

gusto. hustle. gumption. oomph, verve, zeal, fervor. These are the qualities I tend to chase.

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Ironically, they are also the elements of my personality that I tend to shun, ignore & discount. I know they’re in there. They’ve just been buried and need some dusting off.

I need to allow myself permission to let them come out to play.  After all, denying those parts of myself only makes me sad.

Fall is a season of change. Nostalgia. In Japanese, you say: “Ahhhh, natsukashii.”  Sweet, fond memories tinged with regret.

I’m kind of done with regret. Regret is the killer of exuberance.  How can you experience a joyful present with the wet blanket of regret (and its cousin, Fear) dampening your spirit?

I’ve written a lot here about my struggles with depression, eating disorders, anxiety, body image.  They are inextricably linked. The underlying force is one of sadness and fear.  As I have moved into health and self-awareness in the past 10-15 years, I’ve been experiencing a shedding of layer upon layer of those heavy wet blankets.

Honesty helps. So does doing the hard work, taking risks, admitting when I’ve gotten off track, sharing my story.

I’ve lost momentum these days, allowing life stresses to overwhelm me and stamp out my exuberance. Being true to myself and pursuing the life I want have taken a backseat to basic “maintenance”.  It’s easy to let this happen as a busy single parent.  I truly believe there is a sweet spot where I can simultaneously be my son’s biggest cheerleader & at the same time stay true to my goals.  I cheer best when my heart is full and nourished.

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After a week away from home for work, I am back and ready to hit the “refresh” button.  Back on track with eating well, nixing sugar, practicing ample deep breathing time.  Running goals are being formulated and I’m getting giddy to pen a race date on my calendar!

My sugar demon roared it’s ugly roar these past 2 weeks and guess what? Headaches, poor sleep, dry skin, moodiness, crappy runs. Some of us (ME!) need a good month of no-sugar, no junk, to really make it over the hump and kill the cravings.  I am SO ready for my Purium Athlete’s Cleanse, a crisp new running program & renewed energy. I miss my healthy self! {email me at earleerin @ yahoo .com if you are interested in joining me on my journey – a few of my $50 off cards are still available! I love this stuff!}

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For me, it doesn’t matter the goal. Professional goals, new running plans, financial goals, home improvement projects, parenting skills, relationship challenges…or fighting an unhealthy habit that keeps me stuck. In order to get there, I need to be All In. I am never ever going to be “moderation girl” – that’s just not how I’m wired. (dammit!)

Time to grab that gusto, oomph, drive & hustle and fuel my exuberance.

Happiness is a risk. <3

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momentum

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Change is hard.  I am a firm believer in the power of momentum to get my booty (and more importantly my mind) moving in the right direction.  Sometimes it feels overwhelming and downright impossible to do what we know will make us feel/think/be better.  Silly humans. Habits are hard to kick.

I’ve received lots of questions about my 10 day experiment with Purium and how it has worked for me. Sooooo, here’s the rundown:  I’ve experienced improved concentration, patience & mental clarity, much much better sleep, emotional calm, reduction in cravings (sugar, junky snacks, coffee), greater appreciation for eating slowly and mindfully, greater body awareness, MUCH improved skin tone, and last but not least: decrease in need for extra fuel (gels, drinks, bars) while running. Big bonus!

Now, one would think that with all these tangible improvements that staying away from sugar would be a no-brainer. HA. It’s everywhere, that sneaky bastard.  This is where I have found Purium so key: It takes my mind off stupid sugar because I am satisfied, nourished & energized. I plan to continue using the shake 1-2 times per day as it has enabled me to get off the sugar which was my #1 goal.

As I get older & healthier, I realize how empty and hollow that “quick fix” is.  Whether it’s sugar, alcohol, sex, spending money….it’s Oh So sparkly and promising one moment and such a letdown the next.  For those of us prone to addictions, this can be a tough lesson to learn. (I am 44 and still a relative newbie with this one…slow learner over here.)

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I am inspired by so many women I know who keep fighting and growing, even when it hurts. Even when change seems impossible and so so hard.  I am profoundly lucky to be inspired by so many of you.  <3

renewal

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”  – Albert Camus

Recently, I personally re-dedicated myself to another round of clean & conscious livin’.

Despite sincere earnest attempts to adhere to my goals, a very stressful monster of an August reared its ugly head and snuffed out my resolve.  Back to square one.

This time, I decided to enlist the support of a product (which is nearly unheard of for cynical, skeptical, cheapskate, doubter-extraordinaire, control-freak Me). I first heard of Purium via this gal, and the fact that she is an ironman triathlete, speedy sub-3 marathoner, busy working mama & no-nonsense serious uber-athlete, all convinced me to give it a whirl.

I am hooked.

My main demon is sugar.  Sugar sugar sugar with some more sugar on top.  I lose out on precious nutrients because I crave sugar and subsequently fill up on sweet snacks (washed down with copious amounts of strong black coffee), leaving my mood and energy levels looking a bit like this:

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 and the average work day ending like this:

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Not good for anyone around me!!!

So, on day #9 of Purium and mindful clean eating, I am more than happy to report the following:

  • even moods
  • deep sleep
  • soft clear skin (lifelong eczema girl here)
  • improved energy all. day. looooong.

and the biggie….a huge wake up call and kick in the pants for me in terms of recognizing the importance of mindful eating and avoidance of sugar & processed crap: i am one who has a very hard time with “moderation” (to put it mildly), and by following this plan and gritting my teeth through the first few rough days, i have been rewarded with….

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CALM.

Right along with my son’s new backpack, spiffy new school clothes and freshly sharpened pencils, I feel renewed.   Ready to ease into autumn rejuvenated and recommitted.  I smell promise. <3

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(If you are interested in learning more about Purium, I have a few extra gift codes for $50 off.  Just let me know here or via FB.)

alive

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Sometimes I need to remind myself, out loud, to breathe.

Not breathe just a little, but BREATHE. With my whole body.

It is powerful & terrifying to open my eyes, breathe deeply, and do the hard thing.

Summer is winding down and Fall is near.  Time to start anew.

When things are shaky and crumbly and unsteady, it can strangely be the best moment to recommit and rededicate oneself to that which is most important in one’s life.

In that raw state, priorities are blindingly clear.

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”  – John Muir

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“Whatever happens to you belongs to you. Make it yours. Feed it to yourself even if it feels impossible to swallow. Let it nurture you, because it will.” – Cheryl Strayed

During the years immediately following my divorce, I went through hell. I refer to it now as a dark “season” of my life.  A season in which I really f*cked up.  In pretty much every way. I regressed and seemingly unlearned some very valuable lessons of my past. Sometimes I look back on that time and honestly wonder who the heck that woman was, doing those things. Wellll, it was me!! All me. Every last ugly crazy sad messed-up bit of it was me. No matter how many hours I dedicate to ruminating on the absurdity of my choices and the lack of maturity in my actions, that dark patch remains as part of the landscape of my life.

As such, I am getting better at using those dark times as fertile compost.  Amending my present life with shit I have learned.

I went through a stretch of awkward dating, as most newly divorced folks my age do.  Lots of dating followed by lots of swearing I will never date again.  I learned a lot about myself through those years.  Some lessons were immediate, sharp and stinging.  Some were akin to agreeing to get a slow painful year-long tattoo…a dull tugging jagged pain that takes months to heal.

One date evolved after my genius epiphany that alcohol and first dates don’t mix. (really. it took many moons & some personal lows for this lesson to stick.) So this first date was a run. A little trail run.  A jog really.  “Perfect! This will be great!”, I thought.  My favorite thing to do and I can really just be myself! I think that “date” was the beginning of the end for me and Mr. Ego Trip. As we were rounding a bend in the trail, jogging along, I thought “this is so much better than sitting in a bar…!!” Breathing in the clean breeze, relaxing into the forest green, chatting as we ran.

And then he pipes up.  “Hey! You know what I love most right now?”  (um, the clean breeze? the green? the soft pine forest floor??)

“No, what??” I smile back.

“I LOVE how when you run I can see the light shine through the gap in your thighs.  I love that you are thin like that.”

YEP. A grown man with kids said that. On a first date. My stomach dropped and I couldn’t get back to my car fast enough.

This comment stays with me, nearly 10 years later. Why???

Because in my moment of clarity…trying to grow & be REAL, honest and authentic, the outside world (specifically that dude) didn’t play along.  There is never going to be a guarantee that those around me will have my best interests at heart.  All I can do is remind myself, again and again, what I know.  Where I have been, what I have learned, where I am going.

I read this Anne Lamott quote the other day: “…..the three things I cannot change are the past, the truth, and you.”

Here’s to moving through the world empowered by the truth of all your moments of learning, growing & amending your soil.

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another round

“…grace can be the experience of a second wind, when even though what you want is clarity and resolution, what you get is stamina and poignancy and the strength to hang on.” -Anne Lamott

So my 100 days project ended last week with a resounding THUD.  With mixed emotions, I finished out the 100 days and felt no desire to write about it here.  The busy-ness, anxiety re: my running goals & my life as a single mama, and the general amplification of my ‘normal’ state of being completely overwhelmed set the stage for an anti-climatic end to my 100 days of mindful eating (no sugar, no garbage) and daily yoga.

Did I slip up during those 100 days?  Why yes I did. I indulged in the occasional sugary junky treat and post-race beer.  I let my strictness slide for a few special occasions and family functions.  The end of the 100 day experiment coincided with some pretty huge decisions regarding my running goals and commitments to my family.

I ran my third (and SLOWEST) White River 50 and enjoyed myself immensely.  As it turns out, not training hard, having no time goals, running without a fancy watch and smiling = a fun day on the trails.  Letting go of all expectations let me enjoy the views, snap photos, and do what I love the most:  move my body up and over mountains on my own two feet.

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Glenn Tachiyama makes us all look good at mile 37!

My son came home from his first overnight summer camp, a technology-free week up in the beautiful San Juan Islands which left him tanned, stinky, dirty and full of goofy stories.  My heart was 1/2 empty while he was gone and overflowed again while sitting and listening to his tales.  Will he always come to me with his stories?  Will there be a time when I am no longer the one he can’t wait to share stuff with?  Will he stop yelling from his room “hey mom! I wanna show you something!” or stop tapping me on the arm while I’m trying to wash dishes, “mom! mom! this is so funny…lemme tell this one thing…!” Of course.  That time is careening towards me faster than I care to admit.

My job right now is to soak it all up.  Remain still. Listen. Pay attention. Sounds simple enough, right? HA.

I have discovered that remaining still, listening and paying attention are like the 3 biggest challenges of my whole entire time on this planet. They are my practices.  They are also the gold & the prize. The keys to my joy.  I’ve spent a solid (and ridiculous) chunk of years using various substances and behaviors in order to avoid doing those 3 things.  Good news is that I have grown stronger in that time.  Does strength = perfection?  Nope.  I still screw up.  I take wrong turns and get lost. I just don’t wander alone in the woods for days like I used to.

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& thankfully, this guy has my back too <3

SO! what better way to wrap up one experiment than start right in on another? I’m in for another round.

100 days of practicing daily quiet (meditation). 100 days of daily writing (journaling and/or blogging).  Aaaaaand, because it felt so damn good when I did it right….100 days of NO SUGAR.  I could live on coffee and candy alone & let’s just say it’s not the best medicine for a life in which one is trying to remain still, listen & pay attention.  So here we go.  Day #1!

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let’s do this!!

(WR50, photo courtesy Ross Comer)

Day 90. My fire.

“…and I say to my heart: Rave on.”  - Mary Oliver

One of my all-time favorite running movies is On the Edge with Bruce Dern.  (you really need to be a runner to appreciate this film and rise above the cheesy 80s soundtrack & some of the goofy corniness of it all…) I cannot watch it without crying.  One of the best scenes of the movie shows beautiful shots of Dern training on the trails of Mt. Tam with the voice of his coach in the background, “Soar the uphills!  Burn the downs!”  SOAR the ups, BURN the downs….I like to repeat that to myself sometimes while running.

Lately I’ve been thinking how this applies to living life.  Specifically, living a life with grace.  Soaring through the rough patches and burning ferociously when times are good.  I have come to recognize that I have been doing quite the opposite.  I feel like I’ve been head-down, busting my ass this year – trying trying trying to do it all.  Burning those uphills. Not much soaring.  At times I feel too exhausted to enjoy the speedy exhilarating descents. No fire. Not much passionate burning.

When my name appeared on the entrants list of CCC100 this year, my heart lept.  I GOT IN!!! WOOHOOO!!!! Here is my chance to train HARD and FINISH this race – my first 100 miler.  The spring and early summer lay before me with great hope & promise for a carefully executed training plan and plenty of hard work.  Working hard is something I know how to do. After the disappointment of last year’s DNF, nothing can stop me now!! I GOT THIS.

I had fire in my heart.

One of the (many many) things I learned from my DNF at last year’s race was that, for me, running 100 miles requires not only incredible stamina, endurance, fitness, etc etc – but it also demands a big ‘ol chunk of passion. FIRE. I need my whole heart in it.

Last year I lined up with my whole heart.  With a fire in my belly.  I was ready to tackle this thing.

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pre-race, 2013 – happy me!

Where am I now?  I’ve had some painfully honest conversations with myself about that.  Sadly I have knots in my belly, lumps in my throat and sadness in my heart when I think about my running these days.  I force deep breaths when I think about the race.  I feel shallow and shaky when I assess just how much fire I have to bring to that start line in August.

The truth is, I haven’t lost my fire.  It’s just burning for other things.  I thought if I piled on enough kindling and logs and huffed and puffed I could keep my flames going and DO IT ALL.  I have come to the recent realization that (duh) – I can’t.  There, I said it.  I cannot do it all.  It does me no good to compare myself to others who are seemingly able to gracefully “make it all fit”…. I am all I have.

I am a single parent, raising my son primarily on my own. (with mucho help from the proverbial village and my family – make no doubt about that!) This year, he dedicated himself to HIS passion (baseball) in a way which logistically required me to put forth a similar amount of dedication and effort.  The time & travel involved was immense.  Running was often pushed to the side.

And yet, when I watch him work hard, push himself, compete, focus, manage his time and commit to his goals, my fire burns.  I am so proud.  I am so honored.

I also committed myself to the love of my life in a pretty major way this year.  LIKE MAJOR.  :)   Those of you who know me very well or who have read along for a while may have noticed that I have some trust “issues”….to put it kindly. ha. Becoming engaged at age 43, with 3 other amazing little blooming lives to consider, is pretty freaking life-changing.  As it should be.

Apparently, I am the type of individual who has a finite amount of emotional energy (FIRE) to give.  It hurts like hell & feels a lot like failure but I have to accept that about myself.  Rather, I am choosing to accept that.  To hold that in my hands and really be okay with it.

In that choosing, I realize that I cannot spread my fire (my love, my passion, my dedication) too thin.  It will just go poof. (and I will be grumpy and bitchy and not very nice…)

So, for now, I happily choose to burn brightly for my son…

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and family….

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and wait for a time (2015??) when I can stand at the start line of a 100 mile race WITH MY WHOLE HEART.  For me, the distance deserves it. Demands it.

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Am I sad? Absolutely.  Regretful? Not at all.  My priorities this year have been crystal clear and I did my best to make it all fit.  Telling Liam that I am pulling my name from the entrants list of CCC and not running this year felt like a moment of weakness & a failure on my part.  I was admitting to him that I wasn’t ready.  Admitting it to myself.  Rough.

Yet, I am 100% certain I am making the best choice for my life RIGHT NOW.  And that’s all I really have….the courage to make the next right choice.

The 100 mile fire will, without a doubt, burn in my heart again.  Of this I am sure.  <3

CC 100 Elevation Profile