These past few weeks, I've been doing my best to be deliberate with my actions, be mindful of moment, and to practice patience. Why? Not sure. Just feels right.
I've started a gratitude journal, as suggested by Kristin Armstrong on our AMR podcast, and that's going fairly well: I hit it 4-5 times a week in the early a.m. with 4-5 reasons I'm grateful in each sitting. (Although Kristin does 10 reasons daily, I deliberately picked a small journal, and told myself filling one page is enough.)
On spring break, I read and surfed twice (loved it!) and played endless games of Phase 10 in Mexico, where it's easy to do all those things when I was surrounded by 12 entertaining family members; when I deliberately left my laptop at home (traveling without it is so light and easy!) and kept my phone in the off position; when the hardest choice of the day was fresh mango or fresh orange juice for breakfast.
I've given meditation a try (again). I'll sit still and quiet for two days in a row, take a week off, then pick it up again. I think, over the course of the 8 or so times I've sat still for 13 minutes (the length of my Sharon Salzberg guided meditation), I've probably been able to stay focused for maybe five whole breaths. It's really hard, but as my pal Sharon says, the moment you realize you've lost your concentration is the moment you can be better and practice bringing focus back. I've had truckloads of getting-better moments.
I've been especially patient with my plantar-plate-sprained foot, which is a 3 these days on a scale of 1 (la de da!) and 10 (ambulance, stat!). It isn't healed, but I'm not sure it'll ever been fully healed. I'm a 42-year-old mother runner who has been logging miles for over two decades, and as much as I vehemently defend the running-doesn't-hurt-your-body stance, I also know that stance is predicated on a body that is structurally sound for running. (Truly, running does not give you bad knees unless you're genetically prediposed to bad knees.) On a great day, my body is about 80% built for running; these days, it feels closer to 65%.
I started with running and walking on the AMR 5K No Limits plan, and over the course of six weeks, I've morphed to mostly running. For six weeks, no run went longer than 35 minutes. Until Saturday, when I decided I was ready to hit my favorite Bible Park loop, which I love because I get to run over pedestrian bridges six times, which is my nerdy running nirvana. The loop is a little over 4 miles, and I ran on Saturday for 44 minutes.
My foot didn't hurt any more than usual, which is to say that it's needle-like for about five minutes when I start, and flares up a few times randomly during the run. The hurt doesn't feel like it's causing more damage; it more like that low-grade whine of kids when they're sooooo booored, mooooom: Ignore it, and it'll eventually move on.
Saturday was bliss, but that doesn't mean I get to repeat the Bible Bridge loop this week, despite how many times the thought breezes through my mind during my "meditation" practice. It means that I get to practice more patience.
A lot of being deliberate and patient is just being older. I know this because I know if I tried to tell my kids this, they'd just roll their eyes at me, much like I would've done so at my mother for, oh, about the last 39 or so years.
The problem with being patient and/or deliberate is that you can't just leap when the impetus strikes. Yes, immediate gratification is so delicious, but I've (finally?) realized the stinky ramifications of that gratification usually ripple through my life for much longer than the high.
Cases in point:
1. Eating an M'n'M blizzard: so yum, then so yuck for hours afterwards.
2. Yelling at my kids: gets them to back down and/or leave me alone, but feels so crappy when the situation has defused.
3. Sleeping in for more than two days in a row (when I'm not sick): yes, the extra drool time is nice, but when I'm lethargic and sad by 10 a.m., I so regret my choice.
I had to take my orthotics—long blue waterskis that have these bumps, roughly the size of half of a golf ball, in the middle of them—in for a tune-up on Monday. (I know: you're bummed I don't have a picture of them.) Which means I don't get to run at all until they're inserted back into my Saucony Triumph ISOs. "We're really busy," the receptionist told me, "They may not be ready until Friday." I started to ask if maybe she could see if they could rush the refinishing job, but then I thought, "Patience, Dimity, patience." So instead, I said thanks and left the office.
My plan—because even when I'm mindful and patient and deliberate I always have to have a plan—was that I'd run 5 this weekend, and then I'd be ready for six miles at the AMR Retreat on April 18th. We'll have routes that offer 3, 6 and 9 miles, and I really wanted to be in that mid-range group. Why? For personal progress reasons, but mostly for ego reasons: I'm co-leading the whole Retreat and I can't even run 6 miles? Hello, feeling like a Poser. (As long as I'm being honest, I really want to be in the 9-mile group, but that isn't happening, so I'll just blow that candle out right now.)
So I ran four miles on Saturday, won't be able to run all week, and then I'll go five this Saturday? Huh. If I were 28, I'd do it. If I had a race in my sight, I'd do it. If I gave in to the immediate gratification of running—the head clearing, the sweat streaming, the rock starring it gives me—I'd do it. If I weren't in the patient, deliberate place I'm really do my very, very best to inhabit, I'd do it.
But I'm not going to do it. I'm putting that fact out here, so that when Saturday in Little Rock comes, I will run 3. Or maybe 4. Ok, 4.5, max. And then, the next morning, I will take out my tiny gratitude journal, and write how grateful I am that I got to run those miles at all.