Monday, January 29, 2007

Week of 22-Jan-07

Mon:    Ran     3.17mi  27:47   Togo
Tue:    Biked   8.66mi  54:19   Fonta
Wed:    Ran     6.53mi  59:54
Fri:    Ran     3.75mi  33:58
Sat:    Ran     5.58mi  56:49
Sun:    Ran     8.00mi  1:18:59
        Biked   8.98mi  52:00

Meant to do a long run, but on Saturday morning I got "distracted" by the computer and so didn't get out to run until midday. Then I'd lost the motivation to go 12-14 miles and it was HOT. Sunday morning, I got up and out early, so I did get in 8 miles, but I was tired from the day before and had to get to church, so I didn't go longer. But mileage for the week was 27.02, so that's fine.

I did this exercise (from Lynne Twist's Unleashing the Soul of Money audiobook) -- "name 10-20 gifts and blessings that are at the core of your happiness and joy." Two of my ten were:

3.      Running. It's also at the core of my sanity, which I'm sure makes other people happy :o I love to run. I love the process of running, even when I don't like a particular run that much. I love running in new places. I love surprising people when they see me. I love inspiring little girls. Running rocks.

10.     My body--health, strength, flexibility, ability, toughness. Oh yea. I've weathered a couple of falls off the bike, malaria and dysentery and food poisoning. I eat new and fascinating things. I walk, I run, I ride, I sit on buses for hours on end and sleep on widely varying qualities of mattresses and get eaten alive by mosquitos and other things. And my body is doing great. I try to do the right things (stand up straight, sit up straight, drink water, don't eat wheat, stretch, floss once in awhile), but even when I am far less than perfect, my body adapts.

I also listed Music -- which I listen when I run and have since the cassette walkman was first invented (like 1978?) Before that, I had to sing to myself when I ran which was sometimes hard to do :)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Rev prays and does yoga, too

I thought I'd share the daily prayer practice I have developed for myself. I am pleased that I have created something that integrates body movement (yoga) and prayer (the daily office). Including my body really helps me to be meditative rather than intellectual (which is something that is often a struggle for me and that the emphasis on words in the Episcopal/Anglican church exacerbates). And killing two birds with one stone is great, too!

My practice (based on Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families in the ECUSA Book of Common Prayer):

Sit before my altar
Read the appointed Psalm (Daily Office Lectionary, morning Psalm)
Read the appointed Gospel (Daily Office Lectionary)
Stand on my yoga mat
Tadasana (Mountain Pose), contemplate the Scripture readings
Recite the Apostle's Creed while doing a Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation), as follows:
        Urdhva Hastasana (Hands over head)              "I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth"

        Uttanasana (Forward bend)                       "I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord"
        Lunge (right leg back)                          "He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary."

        Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)      "He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried."

        Plank Pose                                      "He descended to the dead."
        Chaturanga Dandasana (4-limbed staff pose)      "On the third day he rose again."
        Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog)      "He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father."

        Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)      "He will come again to judge the living and the dead."
        Lunge (left leg back)                           "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church,"
        Uttanasana (Forward bend)                       "the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,"
        Urdhva Hastasana (Hands over head)              "the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting."
        Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with Namaste hands     "Amen."
Intercessory Prayers and/or Prayers of Thanksgiving accompanied by whatever yoga poses I feel I need at the moment, for example:

        Vrksasana (Tree Pose)
        Various Warrior (Triangle) poses
        Various Seated Twists
Recite the Lord's Prayer while doing a Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation), as follows:
        Urdhva Hastasana (Hands over head)              "My father in heaven, holy is your name"
        Uttanasana (Forward bend)                       "your kingdom come, your will be done"
        Lunge (left leg back)                           "on earth as in heaven"
        Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)      "Give me today my daily bread"
        Plank Pose                                      "Forgive me my sins"
        Chaturanga Dandasana (4-limbed staff pose)      "as I forgive those"
        Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog)      "who sin against me."
        Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)      "Save me from the time of trial"
        Lunge (right leg back)                          "and deliver me from evil."
        Uttanasana (Forward bend)                       "for the kingdom, the power and the glory"
        Urdhva Hastasana (Hands over head)              "are yours forever and ever."
        Tadasana (Mountain Pose) with Namaste hands     "Amen."

Sit before my altar
Read the Collect for the Sunday of the current week

Where do I place my hope?

For the last few days, I've noticed my mind drifting to thoughts about hope. I'm not even sure why this has become the topic du jour, but it my thoughts keep coming back to this. And specifically I have been observing where it is that I place my hope. I will notice a hope -- I hope, for instance, that a recent application to go to a conference in South Africa is accepted. And then I am most interested in where is that hope? Who or what does it rest with? Is it inside me, depending on my effort or energy or good thoughts? Have I placed that hope with someone else and now wish or pray or try to influence them in order to realize my hope?

Christianity (and Judaism, too, I think)  is a religion of hope. And both the Bible and theologians through the centuries have had a lot to say about it. So, I automatically "know" the "right" answer. I "should" set my hope in Christ. I "should" hope for that which is beyond hope. Yet, for most of my life, these have been merely intellectual concepts, no matter how well grasped.

Now, for some reason, I keep getting glimpses of. . . well, of a better place to put my hope, If I can call it that, and of the difference that does make and would make in my life. What would it look like, I wonder, to put my hope to be able to attend this conference in God? First, I have an immediate relaxation response. ("That's interesting," I notice.) Then, it would mean trusting that whether I go or not is in God's hands. Not that I should not do whatever I can to make it happen (there is always a tension between self-effort and grace; "God helps those who help themselves."), but it means letting go of "making it happen," letting go of my attachment to the result. And this would mean accepting whatever happens in the end, accepting whether I go or not as the right thing, the thing that needed to happen (or however I need to say that to myself).

In this moment, this strikes me as a very Buddhist approach--detachment--and I've always thought that I was *not* a Buddhist because of this very principle!

The feeling of ease, of relaxation, of peace that comes over me when I let go of the result is so palpable that it is hard not to think that there is some wisdom in this detachment idea. And suddenly, this morning, I saw something, I understood something about my life that has perplexed me for years, that I have struggled with for years. Those times when I was the most happy, the most "in the flow" of life, the most at ease and filled with joy (my most vivid experience of this was when we lived in Italy)--those were the times when I was detached from results, when I "let go and let God" as they say in 12-Step programs. The thing I have struggled with is not knowing why sometimes everything seems to be going my way, life is great, hakuna matata and all that and then there is a change and that experience disappears *and I can't get it back*. Werner Erhard used to talk about having "your hands on the levers and dials" of your life, your happiness and at times I have been nearly insanely frustrated by NOT having my hands on the levers and dials.

This is definitely a lever or a dial--leave the result with God. Bonhoeffer talked about this. (I am now being flooded with memories of every context in which I have been told this truth and did not "get" it in my being the way I am understanding it now.) It is interesting, fun and a bit amazing to observe myself really understanding  for the first time this piece of wisdom that has been in my face, even consciously, for at least the past 25 years. Sometimes the experience of being a human being just cracks me up.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Lome, Togo

So, I've spent the last week in Lome, the capital of Togo. It's flat, which was nice. And a city, so I did much more road running than at home. But I did hit the beach a bit, since it is also on the Atlantic Ocean. The weather was perfect -- not too hot, not too cold. Really beautiful weather, even if the harmattan haze kept the sun covered all the time.

Most days I was running solitary, with the exception of a football team on a training run and a boys phys. ed. class. (That was very funny -- the boys came around this corner towards me and were, naturally I think, spread by age/height -- from those taller than me down to some boys who didn't come up to my shoulders -- all in bright yellow shirts and followed by their coach blowing a whistle.) Sunday, however, is when everyone does their workouts (this is true in Yaounde also -- I think it's an African thing -- weekend warriors here are much more likely to be runners than basketball players). So on Sunday, I had tons of company, including one young man who ran beside me for over 2 miles, matching my pace, in, uhm, flip flops. But, hey I'm a middle-aged woman, so. . .

Here are my runs. No cycling, for obvious reasons and no yoga because I was staying with a friend in his one room and there just wasn't space.

Mon:   nothin'
Tue:    4.47mi   38:15    to the Ghana border & back
Wed:   7.05mi   1:03:53    the second half was on the beach, in the sand
Thu:    4.29mi    37:55   through the city
Fri:     12:11mi   1:49:15     went to the border twice to get in the miles
Sun:   4.30mi     38:05   through the city again

If you're interested, I'll be posting photos of Lome to my Flickr site in a few days and some reflections on my other blog. So check them out:

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A week back in Fonta

Well, I returned to Fonta and definitely felt the difference in my running. Between the addition of hills, trails and two bike rides, my quads got much more of a workout than they had been getting for the previous couple of weeks. I was going to run long Saturday morning before heading off to Bamenda to buy a bus ticket to go to Douala to get on a plane and go to Togo, but I got food poisoning (ate small portion of a rotten egg -- yuk!). I feel better now (Sunday noon), but Saturday was tough.

This week:

Mon:    Run     5.01 mi 43:07
        Cycle   9.05 mi 48:44
Tue:    Run     3 mi    25:14
        Cycle   8.34    45:02
Wed:    Run     6.69    1:18:14         Got lost!
        Yoga    30 min
Thu:    Run     3.07 mi 31:44
Fri:    Run     2 mi.  
Sat:    nothing
Sun:    probably nothing

I notice that I really hate it when I am "running strong" one week and much weaker the next. I think I should continually improve and improve and improve and I should feel like I am improving. Waxing and waning, not my thing. Even when I have a reasonable explanation for why I ran slower and felt more tired, I still do not like it.

Nonetheless, I was listening to an audiobook that asked the question -- what are 10 things that are at the core of your happiness and joy? And one of those things for me is definitely my body -- it's strength and fitness. My ability to run and bike and walk and do basically whatever I want to do. To feel almost at the top of my form as I am quickly approaching my 45th birthday. Even it's ability to get better when it is hit with things like malaria and dysentery and food poisoning. I think the ultimate compliment would be, when I'm 70 or 80 or 90 for people to say, "she's a tough old bird." Yea, that's something to shoot for.