When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The heart of the difference is not ability or even talent, but desire

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A pure bliss...

What a wonderful, wonderful time I had at a personal retreat at Breitenbush hot spring resort. Thanks to Monika for making the reservations and dragging our boys with us! I had never thought the time I spent there will be as productive as it was…in doing nothing and reflecting on life…

Our 2 hr drive brought us to the mountains surrounding a hot springs area near Detroit, OR, and as soon as we entered, I felt fidgety and unsettled. However, having experienced this kind of feelings before when I went to yoga retreats, I knew it would settle down in a matter of couple of hours…

We made it to the first dinner with a few minutes to spare, and I realized, as usual, in places like that – the food is organic, healthy and vegetarian. But lots of choices and in abundance! We piled up our salads, and after that unloaded our car onot a old-fashioned cart to wheel our stuff into the tent. As soon as we were done with tasks, we headed out to the furthest of hot springs in Meadow area, the Silent Pool, and soaked in the nature’s gift, with views on mountains, fast-flowing river and snow peaks far away… After an hour of laying there whispering “aw” and “wow” to each other, we went to a sauna and felt Earth’s heat hugging our tired and jittery bodies and minds…and then it was time to sleep.

Morning came early, and we hit the sauna for 30 min before the breakfast – use it or loose it! It felt great to treat your body right, and I hope it remembers it as I subject my own body to all kinds of disrespect, not only in races, but in general life as well. After a hearty food we changed and decided to take the boys for a short hike. The weather was blissful, sunny, warm, dry and provided for a great day…

It was awesome to not be in a hurry anywhere and not have any projected miles to run, or even hike. We took the gorge trail (imagine that!) and made our way along the river to hitch a climb in about 3 miles.

After crossing a river a few times on the logs, we turned onto darker single-track and continued our talks, with kids and amongst Monika and myself. At one time our talk went off to a dangerous topic, and I broke into crying – but have to admit, Monika, as a true friend, brought a very valid thoughts and made me think hard about myself and my refusal of making some hard decisions for “emotional stability” sake. May be one day I’ll be ready to get over it, but probably still not now.

The trail was really steep at this point for about mile and half, and our boys were getting restless, so instead of going all the way up to the final destination, we turned at some point and took a side trail to the cliff views.

The hike took us about 3 hrs, and we came back with a some time left for extra soaking in a hot spring, watching a deer right next to us calmly chewing on leaves, just like in a fairy tail. This place is such a nature’s paradise…

Food in tummies (salad, miso soup, tofu and yums) – we all went to spend time on our own. Boys ran around between pools, sauna and woods, Monika read a book in a meadow, and I picked up a great book on Buddhist philosophy of relationships and submerged into that far-away silent pool area…either in it or outside…sometimes alone, at times joined quietly by others…and was totally overwhelmed by thoughts, yet again. It was time for myself, given by myself, no rush, no agenda, no social obligations, no judgments…The book was exactly what I needed at this point of my life. There is a reason I am drawn to Buddhism as the only religion (philosophy) where each of us is responsible for our own been, trying to become a better one, yet accepting what we are, with mistakes, insecurities and other things, which out in real world are pointed fingers on. It fit perfectly also because of nudity around – from mountains, to river, to people – serenity, and never had I thought to myself it’s weird, but that we are all part of this Mother-Earth, everyone beautiful, like in works by artists of Renaissance era, like in de’ Vinci’s pictures…not a bad kind of fruits of this planet, only the best…I was thinking how I often don’t like myself, and even when I think I accept, subconsciously I keep “punishing” my soul and body, how I accept those around no matter what – and why not what holds my own self?, how important it is to be true to yourself no matter what and build any friendships on this foundation, and how beautiful life is.

I was reading – and drifting into a state of almost nap, yet still aware – and reading again – inside the pool, outside on the log, looking around, watching light wind blow the grass, the water whirl in the pool, the bodies slowly moving around, all in silence, and all of it was like riding a high wave, one I didn’t want to leave…I spent there all by myself 5 hrs straight, and didn’t want to leave.

Eventually the gong sounded, and regretfully I collected myself, put on the clothes and headed out to the kitchen area. The sun was still up and warm, and we ate outside, enjoying watching little kids playing in a meadow. We met there wonderful people, either for personal retreat like us, or for a retreat on a schedule by this place (this week it was on a relationships – imagine that! – and how to clearely express yourself), we exchanged so much information on how each of us views the life in general, and how each of ours lives are going so far, and the smiles were heartfelt and warm like the sun that never went down…

The time was still such that we picked more books – Monika on Yoga Mediation, and I – my Anatomy book – and went back to read more. We watched the sun set over the mountains as the air got colder, took some heating in the sauna and spend another half an hour at the library with the boys, where I fell asleep and was awoken by Max with a kiss to tell me to go to tent now.

Next day was more of the same, although I started the day in an opposite mood I was in the day before – more of a “negative thinking”. May be I was anticipating the return into “real world” and all the worries overwhelmed me again, and it proved that I am a long way to learn how to simply “be” (what I thought I was doing wonderfully on Saturday) – and I wasn’t “am”, I was either in the past or the future…and had to hear it out from my girl as it was, all the truth – and that’s what friends are for! She eventually took me to a sauna, then to a bath house to get scrubbed with grapefruit and herbs, and back to the Silent Pool – and I felt better, indeed. We didn’t get into the pool itself anymore but sunbathed at the edge of it, reading more and enjoying the amazing nature. And if our society wasn’t so prudent, I would have posted more pictures, but I don’t think you’re ready, so just close your eyes and picture the BLISS…

I never would have thought that I, who is a known “fit it all into a weekend” woman, would enjoy doing completely nothing for the full 2 days…nothing but soaking the Earth’s gifts been along with it and floating in thoughts, from one to another…so wonderful, so peaceful, without much of a lifting a finger, relaxing and thinking…I can hardly describe. Nor will I be trying, thus the shortness of this post. On top of it, Monika highly recommended to me to finally start writing a journal to keep my racing mind organized, as well as trying to figure out where I am and where am I going, to compare notes from day to day and from week to week to see if I still have same way of where I am going with my life (or at least where I want to go) – and that means less of it put up here. Probably not a bad deal. I always struggle of what to write anyway, especially since my latest mentality towards running and racing is undergoing such a change this year.

Speaking of which, rumor is, Bighorn course is under lots of snow, there is a route change and so on, but I had decided to not even look at changes, not make any pace charts or aid stations predictions, not prep at all (and even not accept Lisa S-B’s offer to search for pacer/crew) – and just go with the flow. The nature flows…so will I…

And this is where I stand these days. Trying to calm my mind. Trying to find a path.


  1. Glad you had the time away Olga. I hope it continues to produce fruit in the days ahead.

  2. What a beautiful place to have a retreat, and great that you could get away with the boys. It looks to me as if there was a lot of "calmness" this weekend. See you soon.

  3. I'm glad you had the opportunity to unwind a little at the retreat. Is that some new ink on your shoulder?

    The weather is finally starting to give in a little to the sun starved people of the PNW!

    Have a great week Olga.

  4. That place sounds like heaven!
    I used to have trouble doing nothing, but fact is, even though I often tell people I don't have time, it's because I've scheduled time to do nothing. It might be only 20 minutes or it might be a day. So I've gotten used to doing nothing in between frantic living.
    I hope you can continue to find time like that.

  5. Ahh, pure bliss. Yes sometimes we work (and play) too hard and need to rejuvinate the body and soul. Be good to yourself first, so then you can help others. I grew up in Salem and spent a lot of time in the mountains around Detroit. It's time to return to see how things have changed. have wonderful run and time at Bighorn.

  6. Olga....

    You are the shit. Your honesty is overwhelming and the last post about personal dicovery was worth printing. keep writing, keep dicovering. life is about all of it and all of it makes up life. you are a good egg. hope to wee you at HR...Billy

  7. It's nice to have some time away to decompress. What a beautiful spot to be able to do that! I wish you all the best at Bighorn! : )

  8. Doing nothing, relaxing is a lot of work right? Different kind of work, learning to let go. I'm glad you had a weekend to do it. You have a great friend and the boys are lucky to have moms who enjoy being outside.

    I'm worried for you, scared for you about Bighorn. I remember what kind of mess that snow leaves on the course; mud, water, more mud and water, marsh conditions at the top. A part of me wishes I could be there again, a bigger part of me remembers last year and runs away screaming:) But it is what it is like you said. No backing down now, just lots of smiles as you go forward. Have a great time ultra tough lady, looking forward to the report.

  9. Hey Olga - looks like a great weekend away. Have fun at Bighorn - I look forward to reading about your adventures there.

  10. Olga,

    You know, some of the posts I read from you, I'm all wound up at the end. Like I take on a little of the abundance of energy that you exude. After I read this post, I was really relaxed. Perhaps a little bit of what you were feeling as you wrote your post? It's really nice to read and to feel.

    Best of luck at Bighorn. I hope you enjoy every minute of it!


  11. Olga,
    I agree fullheartedly with what Billy said. Plus I'm glad you could enjoy the relaxation. If nothing else, it's good rest for the legs for Bighorn. :)
    Great points about accepting yourself as readily as you accept others and about being aware of yourself in the present. Again, I agree with Billy above that "you are a good egg."

  12. I'm gonna go draw a hot bath and soak in it and pretend I am there - like Meghan, I felt totally relaxed after reading this. Best of luck at Bighorn - be where your feet are! Hugs!

  13. Olga:
    It's great that you took time to take care of YOU this past weekend. We all need to be gentle with ourselves, not only in mind, but body, too.

    Just know that you have a huge support system of friends that will be with you and thinking of you while you run on the trails in the mountains this weekend. All the best!

  14. What a wonderful weekend away for you, Olga. It is amazing what some time to reflect and meditate can do for a person. You were overdue. Have a great trip out to Big Horn; enjoy!!

  15. What a cool place to bliss out!

    Olga your posts are great!

    BTW - I'm setting a new career course for myself too. Everything happens for a reason...and fate just forced my hand. I couldn't be happier!

  16. 26 hours, 50 minutes!!! Way to go Olga!

  17. Sounds like an awesome place. It's great that you have found an amazing friend to be with you during this time - it probably comes from you being such a good friend to so many people.

    I can't wait to see Bighorn results!