Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Week

My week to give thanks began yesterday when I was awarded a very generous gift card from, and for, Hannaford Supermarket. They were a primary race sponsor and truly put the money where where their mouth is. Since I have no income presently, my household account has been getting smaller and smaller with no replenishment in sight. So Providence has moved in.

Quoting one of my favorite phrases:
"...the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way."

I'm not exactly conscious as to what I have decidedly committed myself to recently, except perhaps to continue to run competitively (yesterday) and to get a nice new job (every day), and as promised, things do and will continue to work out. They do don't they? I believe this, hence, the commitment. I am committed to thrive and know there are forces greater than me at play.

Today is Monday, the second day of my thanksgiving week, and I received a very nice lead on a job opportunity from a friend and running client, Janet. I am very grateful for this and worked on it today with excellent results. No interview yet but great connections!

Janet has always held a special place in my heart: She came into the marathon training program in 2008, alone, that is not with a fundraising group or friend to partner with. She was doing this on her own because she had a latent desire which needed air - her fire needed a bellow and this program was it. She was also an interesting and accomplished woman that I liked right away.

Janet responded brilliantly. She came every week for the training group and worked hard. Sometimes she ran alone and other times with new acquaintances. But always she showed up for her own reasons. Janet was purposeful in her quest to regain a sense of athleticism and accomplishment, and she succeeded.

Her words:
"I feel so fortunate to have taken the step to sign up and embark on the journey with you… I ran all 13.1 miles and finished under 2 hours—they were my goals and I reached them. It was unbelievable. Once upon a time many years ago I was an accomplished athlete—someone who was fortunate enough to represent the United States in some international tournaments as a national team field hockey player. I worked hard and it paid off with some incredible experiences. The joy I felt on Sunday made me realize that for me, a sense of athletic accomplishment is important to defining me and it has been entirely too long since I felt that bliss. Thank you..."

To Janet, I'd like to say, thank you. Gratefully, we continue to work together and I trust she will reach her goals again - to develop consistency with running and a race pace for those days when she wants to make, or best a time.

Another running comrade came to my aid today in the job quest. Margaret completed the half marathon this year and trained with my group when she could. She leads a busy life and often had to train on her own, separate from the group schedule. Margaret serves on the Advisory Board of the organization to which I am applying, and has a good working relationship with the President of the Board. She wrote an email to her concerning my application and I trust her recommendation will be well received, given who I know her to be. I feel extremely grateful for Margaret today, too.

There are five more days in this week of thanks. My objective is to recognize at least something each day that I can give thanks for. Given the start to the week, this will be a slam dunk.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Place In Between

Purgatory is not the same as hell, but it sure does seem like it.

"A place or condition of suffering, expiation or remorse..."

For example, imagine how the marathoner feels in the taper phase of an intense training program, a couple weeks out from the big day - restless, anxious, and full of self doubt? Or the injured athlete who can not participate in their sport and must sit out in order to recover - frustrated, angry, critical? Or the skier in wait of snow. Or the job seeker, unemployed and yearning to be productive. Hurry up and wait can throw one off balance.

Purgatory is subversive. It is where momentum stalls. Patience is tried. Skin becomes thickened in more ways than one. Hopes get dashed and fears aroused.

It is where one can feel desperate and verge on panic. Or one can be bored silly.

Purgatory is a place where loneliness gets amplified. Self searching questions emerge to challenge one's commitment, competency, personal value and sense of optimism.

Time to dig deep. Feel it, figure it out, atone as needed. It is time to call on old and familiar, as well as new and untried, coping strategies. This could be a time to read more, marvel at nature, play soft music in the background, pray and breathe deeper, and stay connected.

The waiting period needs to be trusted and should probably also be managed. It is critical to not let the oppressive forces bear down too hard and extinguish any remaining spark of hope.

Purgatory is the gift of time to return to a state of grace.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


We are one week into November here in northern New England and I must say it has been a lovely month thus far. The burnt oranges and deep greens lining the streets and creating contrast against the vivid blue sky at the horizon are awe-inspiring. The grasses across the marsh are changed from the light greens of the summer, to brown and orange. The atmosphere has been mostly calm, resulting in a settled-ness, a quiet transition from a more turbulent end to the summer.

One thing I appreciate about autumn is that it can be a generous period for preparation for the long, cold winter ahead. It is not always so, of course. There have been years when we have had very cold Halloweens, and snow before the oak has had time to shed its leaves. This year, however, we have been given a grace period. What needs to get done in and around the homestead to be ready for those harsh and limiting winter days?

It seems to me there is a huge list of things do: Endless raking of acorns and leaves, clearing gutters, putting patio furniture into storage, composting the annuals, testing the snow blower, parking the lawn mower away, and battening down hatches. Inside, we have the storm windows back in place, the wood pellet furnace nicely cleaned and ready to fire up when the temperatures warrant, fresh supplies of dried beans and soup stock in the cabinet, flannels sheets upon the beds, and summer dust wiped away.

It is a time of change, and it suits me. The other day my daughter asked me, unsolicited, which I always love, "You're an autumn baby, aren't you?" That I am, born in October. Perhaps that's why I appreciate so many things about this season. I love the colors and the smells. There is little more refreshing to me than running on a trail in the woods and taking in THAT smell of fall. The air seems clearer and more invigorating, and the running more relaxed.

The pressure of the fast racing season is off, and it's time to rest and think about goals for next year. Of course there are races to run in November, a turkey trot and Thanksgiving day pre-turkey trot, but they seem much more optional than other races throughout the summer. Cross-country races are also in full swing. This coming weekend are the state high school final meets, and larger events will take place down in Boston at Franklin Park.

What a nice time of year here in Maine. I'll try to stay present and not think too much about what is around the corner. Happy November!