Out of the Overflow of His Heart.

It’s been a busy day, but in the midst of the frenzy, I found a few moments here and there to settle more into my new office. Here is a picture:

OfficeIs it pretty? I really like it. It feels good to me. It will feel even better when I move my couch in this weekend.

The hard part of the day came when I unpacked two boxes from my old office that had been sitting in my living room for the last two years and then some because I didn’t have a permanent office to call my own. Continue reading

Happy New Year!

I am celebrating my personal new year today.

The day began perfectly with a fun run with Kerry and Jenny on the trails. Jenny just ran the Marathon 2 Marathon in West Texas, so we got to hear all about it. She had a wonderful run where her mind felt loose and happy. Like my experience in Portland, she never hit a wall. A success! I am always inspired by the successes of my friends.

Then, as I enjoyed my post-workout smoothie at the gym, I happened upon an article by Garrison Cohen that upped my peace of mind. The article appeared in an online journal called elephantI recommend reading the article in full here.

The gist of it is that life at its richest is found “in the pits.” The analogy the article makes is in reference to a peach. There’s the juicy fruit and then there is a pit. Some people love relationships as long as they are enjoying the juicy fruit, but when they reach the pit, they quit and, as a result, miss the really good stuff. Here is part of the article:

In relationships we all enjoy the fun, light, playful, juicy exterior of knowing someone. And then when we come to a breakdown (the pit) we want to throw it away, ignore it, treat it as worthless. The majority of the time we see “the pit” of relationship as a waste of our time, not what we want, not fun anymore.

I believe we’re missing the point.

Just as the pit is the source of life for the fruit, breakdowns are the source of life for the relationship. Not just your relationship with him or her—but your relationship with everything and everyone, including yourself.

If we run from the breakdowns, we simply stay on the surface where we can only have light, fun experiences. When we allow ourselves to really experience the breakdowns, we start to see the core of who we really are. This can feel scary and vulnerable and yet, only by embracing the source of life can we continue to grow.

I’ve learned a great deal this past year, including that I am not someone who throws a relationship away when it experiences a breakdown. That doesn’t mean I’ve figured out how to successfully navigate through breakdowns. I haven’t. But I don’t expect light and fun all the time. In fact, going forward, I’m committed to “fighting” earlier in a relationship rather than later because challenges reveal how committed someone is to making the relationship work. Today, this article felt like the universe telling me that I’m okay, that I did my part this past year, and that I learned something from it.

Then – not that I needed anything else to make today a good one – I also moved offices today! After more than two years of being in temporary, somewhat make-shift office space, I now have a home. I can unpack and fully settle in. The timing could not be sweeter to make today feel like a new beginning.

Not a bad start to my new year, huh?

More Commandments.

In thinking about the events, good and bad, of the last year, I’ve come up with a list of commandments for myself. I made a commandment list over two years ago, so this is something of an update or perhaps a supplement.

  1. If you feel deeply hesitant about a change you are considering, trust yourself. Act only when certain. Any other time will be too soon.
  2. If you have to ask someone for assurance that they still love and want you, you know that they don’t. Believe yourself and move on.
  3. When someone says they want to leave you, let them. Even if you talk them out of it, you are only delaying the inevitable.
  4. If you wonder how well your heart and mind are, look at your body. If you’re heavy and out of shape, you’re struggling with something. Don’t ignore that.
  5. You know that person or thing you think you can’t live without? The truth is that you can. Every time.
  6. When you are sad, write. When you are angry, write. When you are disappointed, write. When you are happy, write. Write. Write. Write.
  7. At all times, be working towards something you want that scares you a little or even a lot.
  8. Be slow in deciding to enter a new relationship, but don’t count out the possibility of love. Ever.
  9. Don’t think you can’t. Whether the goal is becoming faster, leaner, or more bold, finding love, or whatever, know that you are capable.
  10. Don’t be afraid to ask the people you trust for help. The worst thing that can happen is that you learn who you can’t count on in times of need. The best thing that can happen is that you get the help you want. Either way, you’ve made progress.

I like lists like this one because sometimes I forget what I’ve learned. It’s good to be reminded.

This is my list right now. Do you have a similar list or item you’d be willing to share?

The Sun Came Out.

Today, Kerry, Stephanie and I ran the Run for the Water 10-Miler, the proceeds of which go towards supplying Burundi with clean drinking water. I woke to a massive thunderstorm this morning and was concerned the event might not happen, but event organizers posted something on Facebook that cleverly said, “Run for the Water, Run in the Water,” telling us the race would go on. Somehow the storm cleared and the race ended up happening in nearly perfect weather. We were lucky.

We ran easy and hard. We ran easy in that we didn’t overdo the pace, but we ran hard in that we forced ourselves to run all of the hills. The course is a lollipop route. It’s an easy couple of miles out, a pretty tough five-ish mile loop, and then an easy couple of miles back.  When I’ve run this race in the past, I’ve walked the hills. But today, we didn’t walk. And we finished in 1:53. Early last year, I celebrated running a flat ten miles in two hours. Now I celebrate running a tougher ten miles in 1:53. We even pushed the last mile at a sub-10 minute pace. That I ran it all, ran it faster, and had plenty of energy left over tells me that my overall conditioning has improved in a big way. I knew that, but the continued confirmation is always nice.

It was also nice that my friend Betsy was out on the course too. Sometimes she was ahead of us. Sometimes she was behind us. At one point when she was behind us, she yelled, “Taline, you’re looking muscly!”  I kind of knew that too, but again, the confirmation is always nice.

Thanks to the run and the fact of a new day, my mental state has improved dramatically since last night. I really have been doing incredibly well these last few months, but last night made me realize that I’m still occasionally feeling new implications of the losses I’ve experienced. I think that’s okay. I’m not someone who flips an emotional switch easily. I don’t quickly go from caring about someone to not giving a damn. I’ve never said, “I love you” to two different people two months apart or even within the span of a year. My heart just doesn’t move that easily from one person to the next. That’s actually something I like about myself, even though it means that hurt sometimes lingers or resurfaces unexpectedly. I think slowly entering and exiting relationships makes me more reliable and trustworthy than someone who falls fast and hard and exits just as rapidly.

I think the universe knew that I needed that aspect of my personality affirmed in some way today. I mentioned last night that Mom and I shopped for curtains yesterday. We picked things out yesterday and were going to measure my windows and return to the store today to make the purchases. But last night, Mom found an enormous stash of curtains that we saved from my old house. I previously lived in a two-story, five-bedroom house. Mom made all of the curtains that hung in that place. I didn’t take them when I sold the house, but I asked the buyers, a sweet couple, to let me know whenever they replaced curtains because, if they didn’t mind, I wanted to pick the old curtains up because my mom had made them. They were kind and called various times over the years, and so I ended up with tons of curtains. Mom brought all that stuff over today. We sorted through it, and it turns out that I still love everything I painstakingly picked out back in 2000. We can reuse a lot of it, so now I only need to buy fabric for one room instead of four.

See? I’m slow to make decisions, but once I love something, I really love it, even 13 years later. My pocketbook celebrates that about me today. And after having some time to think about it, so does my heart.

A Spectrum in a Day.

Today went from silly to somber in 12 hours.

I started the day by participating in the Austin Tour de Donut. It’s a 25-mile bike ride that includes three donut shop stops and time bonuses for donuts consumed. I expected to dominate the female category because there were zero women entrants last year, but this year a huge group of people showed up for the ride. The group included two women who went to Kona for the Ironman World Championship. I didn’t have a chance.  I did, however, make what I thought was a valiant effort on donut consumption. I had three Krispy Kreme donuts and three Shipley’s  donuts. At Dunkin Donuts, the third location, I couldn’t stomach the thought of another donut, so I passed there, but I redeemed myself by successfully climbing Lost Horizon Drive, which some say requires getting out of the saddle, to finish the course. I just sat and peddled, feeling almost as though I could peddle no more, but I made it up the steep hill. I was pleased despite my poor showing comparitively. It was ridiculous fun.

After lunch with some of the Tour de Donut organizers, Mom and I went fabric shopping. I’m giving my house a facelift complete with curtains where there once were blinds and new bedcovers in both bedrooms. I loved selecting the fabrics. Normally, I get overwhelmed by having too many choices, but today I picked my fabrics efficiently. And I think I picked well. I can’t wait to get them all made and installed.

After fabric shopping, I worked on a speech for my Toastmasters Club. I’m working in the Humorously Speaking manual, but, as I wrote my speech, I made myself cry – not tears from laughing too hard, but real tears. Obviously, tears are not the best thing for what is supposed to be a humorous speech. The speech is filled with humor but, given my own tears, I had to question whether I could deliver the speech with the kind of energy I would need to make it funny and to get through it without tears.

Normally, when I have some doubts about a speech, I email what I’m writing to a trusted friend and ask for input. But tonight I realized that the two people who historically have read my speeches and offered input in advance of my delivering them are both mostly out of my life today. That realization brought on more tears. The losses are old losses. I’ve mostly made my peace with those. But the realization was a new realization. It snuck up on me, and I wasn’t ready for it.

Just yesterday, I felt so at peace. I felt so well that my joy felt almost arrogant, even to me. I almost pulled yesterday’s entry down because it felt boastful. And now, tonight, despite all the peace of yesterday and all the fun of today, I suddenly feel a deep longing, not for what I once had, but for a time when I’ve had all the realizations that I’m going to have about what is dead and gone and for a time when thinking back doesn’t hurt my heart quite so much.

Caught in the Act.

Yesterday morning, I went for a run around 10:00 a.m. I ran from my office down to Lady Bird Lake and did a seven mile loop by myself. I realized during my run that, at any given moment, I was thinking about one of three things: (1) how lucky I am to be able to run at 10 on a Thursday morning; (2) how good it feels to run; and (3) how much I’m looking forward to the next four weekends. It’s nice to catch myself in a state of happiness after a hard year.

I love the flexibility of my work life. I get to be a writer and a lawyer, and, though I have an office I can go to every day, I keep my own hours. So on days like yesterday when I woke up not feeling 100%, I was able to sleep in and run later in the morning. It’s nice to be long gone from the days when the firms I worked for owned me and my time. It’s also nice to be more than two years into this effort of working for myself – a leap that was frightening to make at the time but that has paid off in so many ways.

I haven’t always loved running. I’ve loved having run, but the act itself has only recently begun to be really enjoyable for me. I love that I’ve gotten faster this year and that I can comfortably do a 7.5 mile run and get back to work. I remember the days when a 7.5 mile long run on a Saturday would ruin me for the rest of the day. Now? It’s just a regular workout. It’s incredible to feel good running and to feel good after having run. I owe that to my coaching through TriDot.

And my weekends? They are looking wonderful. I have Fred’s fabulous Tour de Donut tomorrow followed by the Run for the Water 10 Miler with Kerry on Sunday. Then next weekend, I get to take my niece to see Les Miserables at the Zach Theater. The weekend after that, I get to return to my favorite farm in Iowa to see my friends and to spend time with a new friend I’ve made through them. The weekend after that, I get to return to Round Top for a Jeanne Guy Gathering. I am surrounded by wonderfully kind and loving people.

I feel really far from the person who wrote this just over a month ago or this back in July. When I read those entries, they are familiar to me, but they aren’t who I am now. I’m grateful to have felt my way through the hard stuff and to have emerged with a renewed hopefulness about…everything.

Wednesday List #28 – Words of Travis Meadows

When I was in Nashville, I heard a good bit of live music. One of my favorites was a guy named Travis Meadows. He introduced himself by saying that he found songwriting to be a place where he could bleed safely. I think that about writing generally, so I immediately took a liking to him. All through the night, I found myself jotting down things he said and lines from songs he sang. Here are some that really struck me.

  1. “I’ve been cleaning out a lot of emotional closets lately.”
  2. “I’m almost at the age where there is less future than there is past.”
  3. “I’m going to get strong enough not to be ashamed of my old scars.”
  4. “I don’t know much but I do know love, and that’s enough to one who needs it.”
  5. “I had a really bad day that lasted for six years.”
  6. “Reach like you know it’s waiting there.”
  7. “I’ve found letting go of what you hold dear leaves your heart and arms a little more wide open.”
  8. “I’m not famous for making wise decisions.”
  9. “I want to make peace with old ghosts, not piss them off.”

I loved his music. I’m grateful for his words and the example he set for me as someone who is willing to be honest and vulnerable. I hope I’ll have another opportunity to see him perform again soon. If you get to hear him before I do, know that I’m jealous. And let me know what you thought.