Introspective Insights

Introspective - adj: Examining sensory and perceptual experiences. Insight - n: The capacity to discern the true nature of a situation.

Falling Into Community

shoe pic

I fell when I was running today. It caught me by surprise and for a moment, I sat on the ground assessing what hurt, was I bleeding, is there anyone around to be wary of. My left knee was scraped badly, and with both hands burning from mild abrasions, I stood up to figure out what to do.

A man and his dog quickly crossed the street to check on me. “Did you fall?”

“Yes, but I’m OK. Thank you for checking on me.” He handed me a tissue to mop up my knee. For a moment we paused, not sure what to do next.

“I used to run years ago,” he said. “Ten miles at a time, felt guilty if I didn’t go.” Quietly I pondered, do I walk home? Keep running? This man, he seems to want to talk and isn’t community what I’ve been asking God to give me for years?

I listened to his story of running with no sidewalks and cars not paying attention and carrying rocks to throw at dogs, just in case. “But I gave it all up and now Bowzer and I walk four miles a day.” We stop at the corner and I tell him my name and he gives me his and I shake his hand and I thank him. And all I can think as I walk away is that only another (former) runner could have noticed me running through the trees and across this busy street. I have never seen him before and I am grateful that I was not seriously injured and doesn’t God watch over us in unimaginable ways?

I do not know his situation, but I believe that all interactions with other people are God-planned and he is constantly reminding us that we are not alone, that community and love and respect are there if we just open our eyes and fall into it, accept it, take it as it comes.

Sounds of Summer


The last couple of weeks have been agreeable and cool enough
to have the air conditioning off and windows open.  I love this time of year – mid August – sounds
throughout the day and night – creaking crickets, chirping birds, clicking
bugs.  These outside sounds enhance the
rhythm of our days inside and about.
 
These sounds remind me of moving into our much-too-suburbia home years
ago.  We were floored by how many
crickets we heard that first night – soft ones, noisy ones and the one we were
sure was living right outside our window gracing us in vibrant serenade.

I was pondering this morning that I have never spent so many
days outside as I have this year, playing, reading, running, eating, gazing,
and smelling the smoky goodness of a fire. 
Outside is the essence of summer. 
I recall the baby bunny and blue heron I saw this morning when running,
but it is the heavy, steamy smell of dew and the rhythmic thudding of my feet
on the pavement that put it all together. Sights and smells and sounds woven
into this summer symphony carrying me on.  

The other day we sat under trees at Independence Lake talking.  Before the park became busy and loud, I could
hear those familiar echoes from home paired with the soft waves and rippling
water in front of us.  As much as these
sights of summer serenity bring me peace, it is the sounds that link each day
and experience together into a seamless season of outside brought in, inside
brought out.

I think of the years I spent too much time inside working, closed
windows deafening the sounds, HVAC drowning out the life right outside. I am
grateful for everyday that I am here, listening, living alongside these
beautiful gifts of wonder that God has given us all.
 

Some days I crave the quiet, but when winter’s silent snow
falls, I will wish for the crickets, the long crisp call of blue jays, tweet of
robins and long to relive these summer days and nights.

Heaviness


Yesterday was such a great day.  I’m humbled and honored that so many of my
family and friends were here to celebrate this milestone birthday with me.  I laughed and cried and enjoyed myself immensely.  I couldn’t ask for a better day.

This morning was spent with the last remnant of family
before everyone headed their separate ways. 
As they pulled away, I was overcome with grief and sadness.  I can’t explain it – darkness settled over me.  I wasn’t quite right for a couple of
hours.  It seems that this heaviness sought
me out and grabbed me before I could fight it off. 

I suppose after any important event, it is only natural to
come down after the high.  But when I
look back at how I felt earlier today, I’m almost embarrassed.  There was just no getting out of that place
without tears, mourning, grief.  I know,
I know – there are much bigger problems in this world than the
post-party-I-can-cry-if-I-want-to-sob fest I let myself have and you are
exactly right.  But if you look at your
own life, you have been there too – even if you didn’t want to admit it.  The post-graduation-wedding-big vacation-post
birth letdown has happened to you.  We
grieve what is over – if only for a moment, so that we can focus on the next
step – even if that step is unknown, undefined, or unfathomable.  

I let the heaviness win for part of this day, but I’m grateful
to Jerry for forcing me to snap out of it. 
We sat outside and watched the clouds go by.  We opened up the house for fresh air, we
listened to crickets in the middle of the day and most importantly, we enjoyed
each other’s company.  It seems I needed
this quiet time to regain my perspective to blow out the cobwebs of negativity,
to re-center my view. 

Tomorrow is a new day. 
I plan to get up early, go running, and continue this journey to wherever
God takes me. 

Running

I started something a few months ago – something I never thought I would ever do – I started running. Not just running here and there, but for real – long distance (if you will) – with the goal of running a 5K as soon as it seemed plausible.


This running is really out of my comfort zone. I ran a bit in high school (one track season) and I was pretty terrible at it – running the 400 – not a sprint and not long distance – this terrible, in-between distance that I wasn’t ever properly trained to handle. I gave it up as quickly as I had started.


Over the years I have dabbled in exercise – bike riding, playing tennis, walking, pilates, aerobics, circuit training and resistance machines – but never stuck with it more than a year or two consistently. Kids came along and I never thought I would be able to move again, which was true for a period of time.


I was inspired by my brother who took up running while working in Africa over a 3 year period. He lost 100 lbs. I was blown away by what he was able to accomplish.


I downloaded the Couch-To-5K (C25K) app on my phone and…did nothing for a couple of months. A week before vacation I just got out there and did it. Trying to keep up with it on our vacation was hard, but I had lots of encouragement from my brother and sister-in-law.


After about 3 weeks, I was outside watching the kids and I looked at the sidewalk stretched out before me and I was itching to run it. I was mentally committed to this and to actually crave it was something I never thought could happen to me.


After 5 weeks I was amazed at how I was actually able to breathe through the running intervals. I wasn’t so tired all the time. I could hike through sand with beach gear and not get winded.


My goal was to run to lose weight, but although the weight is being stubborn, the other benefits made it worth it for me to continue. At about 6 weeks, I ran my first 5K – before I was finished with the training. I walked about 5 minutes of the run in 3 small intervals. I finished in 42 minutes and the rush of running through all of those people at the finish line was incredible. I felt great after I finished and was surprised at what I had just done – me – a non-runner – running 3.1 miles.


I recently finished the C25K program. While I don’t consistently run a 5K during each run, yet, I can’t believe that I can keep running for 30 minutes straight. I have much to learn and more training to complete, but I think it is safe to say that I’m a runner now. I’m still having trouble believing that and I find that running is not only very physically demanding, but it is also a mental game that I’m constantly fighting. But I’m not done yet – I have another 5K scheduled and then I will see where I go. The idea of running the Detroit Free Press half marathon this time next fall sounds very appealing. Crazy, eh?