Rediscovering Austin.

This was a throwback weekend. Last night, I went to a concert at the Cactus Cafe on the University of Texas campus, and this morning, I ran the ten-mile loop around Lady Bird Lake. Years ago, I did both frequently, but I can’t remember the last time I did either.

BruceElizabeth suggested the Cactus Cafe, and I was quick to jump at the opportunity when she said Bruce Robison was playing. I’ve loved him since the mid-1990s, and I used to go to his shows regularly, but in my older age, late nights are harder for me than they once were. So an 8:30 show at the Cactus was right up my alley. And even better than being early, it was just Bruce and his guitar. I love, love, love a man and his guitar. And when that man is Bruce? That’s a damn fine evening.

He took requests and played songs of his that I’d never heard. In some instances, he was surprised that people knew particular songs, and in others, he hadn’t played them in so long that he had to ask the audience to help him remember what the first lines were. It was incredible. I can listen to him sing for hours and hours.

I had intended to leave his show around 10:00 pm to get home for an early run the next morning, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. I had too good a seat and it was too good a show to walk out early. What a gift of an evening.

Then this morning, I met Erin for a run. She suggested we run the 10-mile loop, which I hadn’t done in over a decade since my days of training with Austin Fit. I had been meaning to ask someone to show me the route because I remember it involved some turns that weren’t obvious, but I hadn’t gotten around to it. So this morning, I jumped at the chance to run it with Erin.

Erin is faster than I am, so she pushed me pretty hard. It was fun to work and fun to run a “new” part of the trail. Riverside Drive has definitely changed since I last ran over there. It’s far more developed, and the trail along the lake was prettier than I remembered it being. I’m excited to add that longer route into my rotation of options for long runs.

It’s been a rich weekend. It felt like I was re-discovering my town, if that makes sense. And it made me wonder what else this area has to offer that I haven’t tried or that I haven’t done in a long time. I haven’t been to Pedernales Falls or McKinney Falls since probably college. I haven’t been to the Wildflower Center or any nurseries in a long time. I haven’t been to the Broken Spoke in a long while, and I really should go considering the recent lessons I’ve been taking. I’ve not ever been to Wimberley except for a visit a year or so ago to Blue Hole, which was stunning. I’ve been meaning to check out the Dripping Springs library.

There’s a lot I can do here. This weekend was a good reminder that I live in a wonderful place. I just need to get out and enjoy it.

A Whole Night’s Sleep.

Sleep has been escaping me lately. My body doesn’t seem to understand that the hours between 2:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. are meant for sleep. Currently, it thinks they are for staring at the back of my eyelids, reading, watching television, doing dishes, and otherwise thinking about the one thing I want most right now. Last night, in my wide-awake state, I noticed that my children were oddly quiet during those hours. I think even they feel compassion for my lack of sleep right now.

So what’s going on? I’m training lots. I’m eating well. I’m not stressing about work. I’m in the comfort of my own space. So what’s the problem?

To answer that question, I started thinking about the last times that I slept especially well. Most recently, I crashed hard the night after running Hood to Coast. I slept so hard that my right eye crusted shut. It was wonderful, but I’m not about to stay up all night and run in an effort to get one good night’s sleep. Before that, I think the last time I slept easily and well was last December on Whidbey Island where I did a Peerspirit writing workshop called “The Self as the Source of the Story.” Each night, I went to bed relatively early, usually before 10, and I woke with ease around 5 in the morning without even needing an alarm. The one morning that I “slept in” was the morning that we had the entire day to write on our own in silence. I think I was a little intimidated to start that effort.

I slept well on Whidbey Island because I was spending day and night doing things that meant everything to me. I went for walks, read, spent days in sessions with women I adore, and wrote. That was it. It was simple on the outside, though I was struggling with and writing about things that were anything but simple for me on the inside. What that tells me is that I don’t need things to be easy, but I do need them to be meaningful.

Right now, I’m trying to fill a void. I’m filling it with good things, like movies, travel and dance lessons, but even good fillers are fillers. And I don’t want my life to be about fillers.

My big boss at a law firm where I sometimes work likes to say that there are three choices every person needs to make: who you love, what you do, and what community you live in. According to him, some people only get one or maybe two of those right, and the people who experience the most satisfaction in life get all three of them right.

A year ago, I thought I had the love piece down. Now, I have an incredible community, and I’m mostly doing work I love. There hasn’t been a time when I had all three at the same time.

I want all three. I can’t control the love piece, and I think the community is, at least in part, something you build with the person you love, so, for me right now, that means focusing on the piece about what I do. That’s part of why I’ve been writing so much. Writing is definitely therapeutic for me, but it’s also what I love most, whether I’m writing in my journal, this blog, an essay, an article, or content for someone else’s business. I enjoy it with my whole heart.

I’m going to continue doing what I enjoy and trust that I eventually will find a person I can love with my whole heart who will love me and who will join me in building a community we can love together with our whole hearts.

I want a whole heart, and I think it feeling far away is what’s keeping me up at night. But I’m hopeful. With each passing day and each passing (sleepless) night, I’m more and more hopeful.

Go Dance.

My dance instructor thinks I’m a complete idiot. I think he does, anyway. In fact, I’m so confident that he does that I would bet Bread and Butter on it.

I’m taking swing and two-step lessons right now. I started one month ago and have taken eight group classes and three private lessons. There’s a lot I can do now that I couldn’t do four weeks ago. I can do turns and spins. I can get into and out of what they call a “shadow” position. I can modify my three-step swing movements into a jitterbug. I’ve learned a lot of mechanics, but I’m not terribly smooth at them because I have no balance. I have no rhythm either, but my instructor tells me that I don’t have to have rhythm. I only have to worry about the lead’s rhythm. Balance, on the other hand, is my responsibility.

So tonight, we worked on balance, which meant we spent much of the hour doing “simple” pivot turns down the dance floor. My instructor is incredibly graceful at them. Me? Not so much. I can’t keep straight which foot my weight is supposed to be on and which direction I’m supposed to turn. I kept having to ask.  Our conversations went much like this:

Taline: So which foot am I supposed to be on?

Instructor: The Left.

Taline: Which way am I winding up?

Instructor: To the Left.

Taline: So I’m turning to the right?

Instructor: Yes, to the right, over the right shoulder.

Taline: So what we’re doing now is the opposite of what we just did?

Instructor: No. It’s exactly what we just did. It’s exactly what we’ve been doing for the last half hour.

Oy. What am I doing? Why am I putting myself through this dance business? Why am I subjecting myself to the embarrassment and subjecting my instructor to the torture of dealing with a complete incompetent on the dance floor?

Because I have to. I have got to get more comfortable in my own skin and learning to dance is the only PG rated way I can think of to do that.

I remembering being a kid and taking tennis lessons from a coach who didn’t understand me one bit. One night, Jack and I were working on my serve, and he demonstrated what he wanted without tossing the ball and without actually striking anything. He just demonstrated the motion. Then he told me to show him the motion he’d just shown me.  I stood there for at least a half hour refusing to pretend to serve, and he got more and more frustrated with me with each passing minute. What he was asking me to do was quite simple. But I couldn’t do it.  What Jack didn’t understand was that I wasn’t comfortable enough in my own skin to mimic a motion with my body while he watched.

That’s what dance feels like to me. Sober, I don’t feel the music, and my movements feel artificial and forced. So it’s hard for me. Anytime there’s dance involved in a social setting, I spend much of my time sitting on the sidelines while the person I’m with gets more and more frustrated with each passing minute.

That needs to change. I want that to change. So I’m taking lessons, and I will get comfortable on a dance floor. I will get comfortable in my own skin. It might take me months or years. It will most certainly take a ridiculous amount of patience on my poor instructor’s part. But I will get it eventually. I know that because I’m an Ironman, which means that I don’t quit and that anything is possible.  And maybe I’ll even manage to convince my instructor that I’m not the idiot I initially appeared to be.