I am a girl who loves mountains, changing seasons, running, true backpacking, strong coffee, and knitting with high quality yarn.

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

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

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Coming of age.

Life has a natural progression in it. It simply flows. It ebbs, of course, and curves, and edges, but just like water, it flows, eventually, around corners and bends, and it flows in one direction – forward, from the very beginning of a tiny spring till it spills into the ocean.

Everything comes to an age. The trees, the creatures, good wine and cheese, and yes, us, people. We age. It is only natural. It is a good thing too, and it is even better when we realize that it is a good thing. We fight, we mend, we adapt, we reject, we grow – older, wiser, more mature, hopefully, happier with ourselves, more accepting, less demanding, yet knowing precisely what we want and not forgoing the biggest principles, not sweating the small stuff, but standing strong for what we believe in. For me, it is keeping the word you gave, and walking your talk. Hypocrisy makes me cringe, and despite getting older, I am not any more accepting of it, I may be just quieter. We all make mistakes. I do. I do my best to admit it, learn from it, and not push it under the rug. And “living” the 10 commandments, whichever religion you are (I am neither). There are simple rules, laws of life, things that make sense. Every action demands a consequence. Why trying to get around? It is so much easier to live honestly. You'll never have to remember where and when to lie…

I went to my yoga class last night. I haven’t had a chance to visit in over two weeks. Life’s been crazy, and some things went into the background. Didn’t even get a chance to realize how much I missed it. Interesting progression it is – I used to think of my Bikram practice as taking care of my health, my body, my spine, while running being my meditation respite. Lately yoga has taken a whole new turn for me. It is still all those things, yet it is so much more. It is my time. 

Practicing stillness. In yoga, it is important to get into an asana and not go back and forth, just stay, may be take small movements further in, but not back off. Get in and be still. Breathe. Focus. Clear your mind.
Practicing being. Being in a moment. The asana’s are so designed that if you let your mind wonder, you fall. You have to be where you are. No-where else. Right here. Right now.

Life has been nuts. I held it all together, and the move went practically perfect, without a single glitch. Being highly organized helps. The popcorn ceiling has been fully (and to our acceptance) replaced, the carpet installed in the bedrooms, I took last Wednesday off and painted all the bedrooms in 8 hrs, Larry met with the electrician on Friday and had all the work done up to code (and more) and new locks installed. Boxes packed and ready, and few fragile items already settled in, on Saturday at 10 am the truck was being pulled in to our old garage – and by 1 pm we were finishing eating pizza in our new place. Ultra style. It helps to not have extra crap in the house. Minimalism and frugality with value on need and quality. Air flows like a river in our home, without any hoops to jump or corners to avoid. It is so relaxing to not occupy the space just because it’s there. Like in the mountains – some have trees, some bear creeks, some just are…We had two extra guys and their ladies helping out with the move itself, and my girlfriend took our kids out of the view – and by Sunday late afternoon 90% of the house was unpacked, allocated and felt like home. Yep, that was a piece of cake…There are still a million things to do, little projects to tend to, bigger renovations to dream about. But for now - it is perfect, simply perfect.

By Monday the fact that the main stress is over came out of my every pore. I was sad and wanted to curl up and cry. By Tuesday I was irritable and snapping easily at everyone who challenged it. Between work – and business – and cooking and organizing – and an hour commute each way - and still trying to maintain semi-balance of exercise – and, of course, a few other life’s events that are not up to blogging discussion but fall under category “If it rains, it pours” - I buckled. It didn’t help that not only was I not eating the way I was for the last 3 months – I wasn’t even eating the way I was since winter time, and not avoiding gluten either (bread, pizza, pasta and all). My body rebelled. Now I know. It was insane. Forget definition, I was getting puffy, fat, water-retained and carbo-loaded. I was bloated and very much hurting. Everywhere - in my tummy, in my head, in my chest…in my soul. I was miserable for sure.

My body gave in so much, even alarm clock didn’t go off on Wednesday morning. It was a sign. That was my time to recharge. I could care less who is making dinner and how Stephen wouldn’t know where I am (still no phone in the house, no Internet or TV either, and, oh, Heavens, how wonderful it is to be without destruction of 21st century and use time and quietness wisely! ). I stopped at a Chinese place and picked up a fortune cookie. It read: “Choosing what you want to do, and when to do it, is an act of creation”. I chose to get into my yoga practice…

As I set before the class, the calmness was slowly coming down to me. The peacefulness.  My body is my temple, as cliché as it sounds, and I need to take care of it. Love it and cherish it. Feed it the right way – from inside and out. Not despise it, not hate it – help it. I vowed. It’s time. I am moving forward. No river flows back.

I stood in front of the mirror, looking without judgment on my belly, hiding all the hard work of previous months, and I took a deep breath. In and out. My mind stills, my brain relaxes, my thoughts slow down. My favorite instructor speaks the monolog, in her wonderfully quiet and powerful voice, and I tune in – and zone out – without even noticing it. First posture – comes easy. Amazing feeling. Getting deeper and holding still. Moving onto next. Nothing buckles under. Strength, balance, endurance, stretching – all coming together. By mid-way I notice that the bloating is lessened and I can see some kind of carving in the abdomen area. I bend and fold – oh, my God, I haven’t fully folded in 6 years…I hold and not celebrate, just being. Every asana allows me to move deeper and stay stronger. Mind blowing how this practice flows. I allow it to move. I don’t judge, I don’t think this is my “new starting point”. I simply accept it as is, right now, right here. I am eternally grateful.

And I think - this is how I want my birthday to be. Grateful and celebrating my body. I will attend that half-marathon for women that my girlfriend signed me up for as a gift – and I’ll run, or jog, or walk, being thankful that I can. And I will take another Bikram class (free class on birthday, yay!) – and accept wherever I will be on that day. And I will eat good food, food that nourishes my body and that leaves me feeling healthy, from head to toes. And I will be calm. I will try. I will make an effort. I promise. I owe my 42-year old body that much…

Sometimes to gain clarity you need to let go of control. Often it is difficult to comprehend, and even harder to do. But those moments when we grow and mature define how much better the next step in life will be, easier if you will, and happier, I hope. Just like coming to yoga practice and let it envelope how it is. Let kids make their mistakes. Let details slip between the fingers. Let law handle the cases. Lets politics play itself out... At home, Larry cooked the dinner, kids were reading books instead of whining about no electronic devices, and I retrieved into my favorite spot, a corner chair by the long windows in the office. At last, I was not fidgeting or anxious, or on the run. I was at peace.

I ran every regular route on the roads in our old neighborhood last week, before we moved. I improved the times on each of those too. May be 4 months break did me good. That and the fact that the temperatures in the morning are almost chilling, hardly reaching 70’s, and during a day only hovering a degree or two over 90. My foot still hurts, but not obnoxiously and the pain kind of subsides about an hour after the run is over. That much is good. That much gives me joy and a reason to sketch out a training plan for next season. Interestingly, I had completely outgrown “fear of missing out”, that rigid tightness which makes me to identify myself with how many races and how well I run. I still want to do it. I am not into doing it “just because”. I have nothing to prove, not to others, nor to myself. My last foray into “I can be anything I want to be” past year was awesome – I trained for roads, trails, ultras and even body show. I had a great year. As I design schedules for people I work with, I am itching to “practice what I preach” and have a nice blend of hard exciting training and running for pleasure. Just the way it should be. It’s time to do it for me, smart, slow-cooking, quietly. It is also time to dream about exploring new trails not related to races, about traveling to new and forgotten places, about fast-packing in the mountains, about stopping and smelling the air, while utilizing the wonderful training that ultrarunning gave us as a gift. It is growing older, wiser and happier, already… 

There is nothing I don’t love about our home. I love the street it is on, the middle of not-through-street, which nobody drives on unless you live here. I ran every nook around already, and it is certainly flat, not Great Hills area, but it’s only a short jaunt over there, a 2-mile passed the parkway, and you can have all the hills you can handle. There is a small local park a quarter of mile away, and it has a dirt path around – 0.6M total. Perfect for intervals, because they don’t have to be on a track as long as you out an effort and improve the times. I already designed the workouts…I love the layout of the house, the kids separated from us, the beautiful kitchen with lots of light coming through the windows over the sink. I love the small bathrooms which would send you to 70’s (and it should). I love that we have this neat small backyard with a lot of potential, completely dead right now, but waiting for us to put our hearts and sweat in it. I love my office – an extra bonus/den room which wasn’t even listed and doesn’t exist in any other home on this street. How did it appear is a mystery. I’ve always dreamt about a little room where I can retrieve to and stay quiet, and do handcrafting, again. I’ve been knitting every night since we moved. I have ideas roaming in my head non-stop. I am becoming pretty domesticated…I love how small and cozy it is, how it has everything you ever need and doesn’t overwhelm with large spaces and power. It is homey, you know, exactly what I pictured home should be. To think that between a wild idea that maybe we can think about a house and actually physically moving into one has only been 2 months (exactly) is crazy. But then again, what is normal with me? Life is supposed to move forward, remember? Hopefully, we will be moving alongside with it…

It's better to be known by six people for something you're proud of than to be known by sixty million for something you're not.
Albert Brooks

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character
is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.
John Wooden


ultrastevep said...

Awesome post, Olga...seems like you needed that yoga and also needed to write this, to let the words flow out of your fingers like a river.
Congrats on the house and also great new photo on top of the page!

Anonymous said...

awesome, congratulation

Sarah said...

Words to live by, Olga! This is the kind of post I like to think about and let sink in.

Happy Birthday early. The best is yet to come!

RunSueRun said...

Awesome post, Olga. Congratulations on your new home!!!!

Thomas Bussiere said...

I had to read this twice - So very awesome.
John Wooden - My Hero.

Rooster said...

A great post Olga! Congrats on getting your move done and all the work you and Larry have already put in is amazing. I can't agree more with all you have said here.

On another note: Did you change your color scheme? I had a hard time reading the white on dark but I am getting older and starting to do that eye thing ;)

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